Mental health is an important topic and a running theme in literature. Many authors often go through mental health problems themselves and portray it in their work. For example, Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft are some of the scariest horror writers in history, because they depict their own fears within their writing. For instance, H.P. Lovecraft suffered with mental health issues such as night terrors and would find inspiration in his dreams. Here are some of the most compelling reads about mental health.
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf is a classic English author who suffered from her own mental illnesses. She suffered from severe depression. Ultimately, she lost her battle to her mental illness, committing suicide in 1941. Mrs. Dalloway is an especially pungent representation of her mental illness. Her character Septimius, is the focus of mental health. He has depression, as a result of the war and sent to a mental institution by his family, which only makes him worse. Mrs. Dalloway, the main character, also struggles from a mental health illness. Not only does the book discuss mental health but oppression too, making it a bonus for us feminists.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores down syndrome and depression caused by an unforgivable decision. The novel explores the shame some people have over mental and physical illnesses. The novel has a happy ending though, even in unexpected.
Tuesday’s With Morrie – Mitch Albom
This novel deals with mental health surrounding losing a loved one and life not going as expected. Albom’s old professor from college is dying, who he happens to suddenly reconnect with. Even though Morrie passes by the end of the novel, Albom can continue his life through himself by taking everything his teacher had taught him and applying those lessons to his life. The novel exhibits the sadness of losing someone to death, and the importance of having time with people you love before death comes.
19 Minutes – Jodi Picoult
Due to the current climate in the United States of America 19 Minutes is a pivotal read. It explores bullying and a school shooting. Even though this novel was written before school shootings became such a frequent thing in America, it discusses the connection between bullying and school shootings. It is maybe the most important book provided on this list, in relation to events going on in our world today. Trust me when I say, it has a very satisfying ending.
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s Beloved is another important novel to explore in relation to conversations being discussed in society today. Beloved explores slavery, and the times directly after slavery in America. In relation to mental health, Beloved explores portrayals of trauma and PTSD, specifically caused by slavery. One of Morrison’s character, Paul D shows examples of abuse and sexual assaults. Another one of Morrison’s characters, Sethe suffers from depression and postpartum symptoms. The ending is not completely happy but leaves the reader totally on edge.
If you like any of these novels, they are available on Amazon. In the comments, let us know other books you would recommend.