Title of Book/Report

Mental Illness in Young Adult Literature: Exploring Real Struggles Through Fictional Characters



Document Type


Place of Publication

Santa Barbara, California


ABC-CLIO (Libraries Unlimited)

Year of Publication



Mental Illness in Young Adult Literature: Exploring Real Struggles through Fictional Characters highlights American young adult literature published since the year 2000 that features characters grappling with mental illness. Chapters focus on mental disorders identified by the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and OCD.

Each chapter begins with a description of a mental illness that includes its prevalence, demographic trends, symptoms, related disorders, and treatment options before examining a selection of young adult texts in depth. Analysis of the texts explores how a mental illness manifests for a particular character, how that character perceives him- or herself and is perceived by others, and what treatment or support he or she receives. The connections between mental illness and race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and identity are examined, and relevant research from education, psychology, and adolescent health is thoroughly integrated. Each chapter also provides a list of additional readings. An appendix offers strategies for integrating young adult literature into health curricula and other programs.

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