May is Mental Health Awareness Month. One in five Americans is affected by mental health conditions. During Mental Health Awareness Month, people are encouraged to expand their understanding of mental illness. It’s also a time to try to increase access to treatment and let those who are struggling know that they are not alone.
This year’s awareness theme is Fitness #4Mind4Body. The theme reminds people that mental health is affected by nutrition, sleep, stress, gut health, and exercise. Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being. Living a healthy lifestyle may not always be easy, but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.
Here are a few books- both fiction and nonfiction- that center on mental health:
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson- The author discusses how her severe depression has led her to lead her fullest life. This book is about mental illness, but is also about seeing joy in new ways.
Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley- Pete Earley has written about the criminal justice system while as a reporter with the Washington Post. But it was only when his own son, in the throes of a manic episode, broke into a neighbor’s house that he learned what happens to mentally ill people who break a law.
The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks- Elyn Saks is a professor, lawyer, and psychiatrist- she has also suffered from schizophrenia for most of her life. Saks discusses her paranoia in this beautiful memoir.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh- In this graphic novel the author, who also has an award-winning blog, talks about her ongoing depression in a series of hilarious stories.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- Esther Greenwood, a talented writer, becomes mentally unstable during a summer spent interning at a magazine in New York City. She is tormented by both the death of her father and the feeling that she simply does not fit into the culturally acceptable role of womanhood in this harrowing novel.
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick- Pat Peoples is a former history teacher who has moved back to his childhood home in New Jersey, after spending time in a psychiatric hospital. Pat thinks he has been away only a few months, but soon realizes it has really been years, and he struggles to piece together his lost memories and what has become of his wife, Nikki.
For more information about Mental Health see these websites:
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
For local information:
Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition
The Women’s Initiative
Partner for Mental Health