7 books (and characters) that make mental health advocates feel visible

7 books (and characters) that make mental health advocates feel visible


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Do you read a book to escape or to gain a new perspective on your daily life? Are you looking for brand new characters or people who make you feel less alone? You can read about all of these things, or none of these things, but in honor of a month of mental health awareness, I’ve talked to a number of mental health advocates about books that they felt accurately and empathetically, set up characters who went through a mental health struggle. . From social workers to introverted artists, each recommended a book and a character that made them feel visible, which is one of the best gifts an author can give to his reader.

“Brit Bennett does a great job of showing how grief can manifest itself in behavior when not addressed or processed. I personally identified with Robert Turner, a widower, because I, too, had become obsessed in my church when my mother first died — suppressing my emotions and distracting myself from my loss. In the end, this behavior was not the best choice; It helped me in the short term, but not in the long term, because it delayed my healing journey. “-Oludara Adeeyo, psychiatric social worker and author of “Self-Care for Black Women”

“She’s not a fictional character, but Cheryl Strayed, the author of ‘Wild,’ really made me feel so open that I saw her so openly writing about her relationship with herself and her struggle with addiction and mental illness. I loved her book, but I often felt deeply uncomfortable reading it – even though I didn’t go through many of the problems it had, due to its raw vulnerability, I felt like I was looking in a mirror. “-Tori Press, artist and author of the book “I’m definitely, probably, pretty (I think)”

“The main character of Ora is a woman who is facing intense anxiety, which is both personal and connected with the circumstances of her son’s deployment in the army. In fact, personal and political intertwine ways are deeply explored. We relate to the idea that the circumstances of our lives are not separate from what is happening in a larger society. We appreciate the portrayal of her struggles – the feeling of losing her mind – and her efforts to find a way to get through her intense anxiety. “-Abbe Greenberg, MCIS, and Maggie Sarachek, MSW, co-founders of the Anxiety Sisters community

“Chan is asking readers to sit down with the protagonist Frida, who has made a terrible parental mistake that sent her away to re-educate herself in the way of being a ‘good mother.’ Chan’s novel does not ask us to liberate Frida, but rather to understand her, to empathize with her, and to see dehumanizing social conditions that serve to judge rather than uplift mothers. As a mother, I felt challenged and seen in this wonderful novel, and I am so grateful for its existence. ”-Chloé Cooper Jones, author of “Easy Beauty”

“I feel a kinship with Elaine, a woman who is struggling with the residual trauma of a toxic childhood friendship. Elaine and I both direct our pain into art and create images that convey what we could not say as children. ”-Marzi Wilson, artist behind introverted doodles and author of “Positively Introverted”

“I love, I love, I love ‘Animal.'” Joan is a character who immediately caught my eye because of her very flawed and dark nature. I understood her anger at men all too well, and I went through the book furiously to find out what would happen to her. “-Erika Sanchez, author of “Crying in the Bathroom”

“Nina not only loves books like I do, but she also struggles with anxiety. One way to do this is to plan your days for a minute, including setting aside time for reading or just doing nothing. The feeling of control, though false, that I gain by structuring my days is something that also helps me keep anxiety in check (at least sometimes). Nina also tends to back down when her anxiety is too great, pulling away from family and friends for fear of burdening them, which is something I do to deal with it, especially in the last few years. –Katharine Scrivener, bookstagramer at @readwithkat and mental health advocate





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