Mental Health Challenge

Hey there everyone,

As you probably know by now, I am completely obsessed with reading challenges, especially ones that encourage you to read books centered around a theme. So, this year, I’ve decided to host my own. Welcome to the Mental Health Reading Challenge.*

The aim of the challenge is to raise awareness for the complexity and difficulty of mental illness, to erase stigma and to promote understanding and support. Reading, for me, is a transformative experience. It takes me out of myself and into the experience of other people. If all of us could bring ourselves to a higher level of empathy, the world would be a better place. I’ve written on this topic before here.

You can sign up for the challenge by commenting on this page. Please include your name or username, the number of books you plan to read and/or other cultural objects you’ll look at, and a Goodreads profile or blog where you’ll keep track of your progress. If you don’t want to keep track, that’s also fine.

To make it easier to find books, films etc. you like, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorites that deal with mental illness, as well as ones I haven’t read or seen but that are widely popular. Of course, books that aren’t on this list are still admissible, as long as they feature at least one character with a mental health problem.

*This was originally just going to be a reading challenge, but as you can see I’ve changed the title to just Mental Health Challenge. I applaud every effort to educate yourself on matters of mental health, whatever form they take. If you want to listen to music, watch films, TED talks or television, read comics or fanfiction or look at other cultural objects, I encourage that approach. Throughout the year, I’ll try to shed some light on a number of cultural objects that deal with mental health and/or illness.

Additionally, the amazing Book Riot has put together a list of must-reads about mental health here. There are a lot more themed reading lists, for example: here on Mental Health Awareness, here for World Suicide Prevention Day, another one for depression and suicide here, and there’s one on the specific horrors of trichotillomania here.

Never forget, there are as many unique minds as there are people, and each and every one of them is equally valuable.


  • The Noonday Demon – Andrew Solomon
  • Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig
  • My Heart And Other Black Holes – Jasmine Warga
  • The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  • The Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger
  • Doktor Glas – Hjalmar Soderberg
  • The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  • Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
  • Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven
  • It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – Ned Vizzini
  • The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  • The Silver Linings Playbook -Matthew Quick
  • We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  • Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  • The Hours – Michael Cunningham
  • Dear Evan Hansen – Steven Levenson (2017)
  • An Unquiet Mind : A Memoir Of Moods And Madness – Kay Redfield Jamison
  • A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby
  • The Sorrows Of Young Werther – Goethe
  • Shoot The Damn Dog: A Memoir Of Depression – Sally Brampton
  • Girl, Interrupted -Susanna Kaysen (2017)
  • Prozac Nation – Elizabeth Wurtzel
  • Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte (2017)
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Go Ask Alice -Anonymous
  • Looking For Alaska – John Green
  • The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath – Sylvia Plath
  • I Never Promised You A Rose Garden – Hannah Green
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir Of Madness -William Styron
  • Turtles All The Way Down – John Green (2017)
  • Notes From Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky (2017)
  • Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? – Jeanette Winterson (2017)