In the last two blogs, in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, we looked at some of the great YA fiction which presents characters whose lives are touched by disorders. But is not all the Niles-Maine District Library—or, indeed, the entire library consortium to which we belong–can offer.
There are also nonfiction resources on the subject of teens and mental health. The PTSD Workbook for Teens is a page-by-page introduction to key life skills on the way to wellness: building support systems, understanding trauma, breathing to calm yourself, and so forth. The same format (excerpts from dozens of teens’ life stories, pages on which to write answers or fill in charts, etc.) characterizes The Anxiety Workbook for Teens and It Happened to Me: A Teen’s Guide to Overcoming Sexual Abuse, among other titles.
An excellent account of how one teen lived with, and eventually got the better of, OCD is The Thought That Counts by Jared Kant. Kant’s symptoms reached critical mass at age 11, when he had a meltdown at summer camp. Confusion, shame, and self-blame followed until, with the help of therapy, he saw that “OCD is a real and serious illness, not some figment of your imagination or sign of a character flaw.” He sums up what he learned this way: “It’s a biologically based disease, and you can’t just talk yourself out of it any more than you could talk yourself out of having diabetes or asthma.”
Anyone interested will find, by searching the Niles-Maine District Library’s catalog and the full array of resources from all consortium libraries, both high-quality fiction and nonfiction. The good news is that these books challenge how we have traditionally thought about mental health conditions, and suggest that the stigma is losing its power–while understanding and tolerance are gaining strength.