Mental health made mainstream in novels

Zoe Klein, Staff Writer

Anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses are now being diagnosed with more regularity than ever. As social media penetrates modern culture, mental illness has not only become more common, but recognition and destigmatization of it have begun to emerge as well. From the Rock to Beyonce, celebrities have opened up about their experiences. The demand for media attention about mental health has become more rampant than ever. Some of the most renowned authors have come forward with their own experiences, taking them and twisting them into three-hundred-page odes to teenage struggles.

Weaving through the tragedy of a missing parent, too much hand sanitizer, and the most tentative of romances, John Green took his own experience with mental health issues and turned the volume up. Exploring the poignant tale of a teenager with anxiety more severe than many cases, he was able to provide insight on how anxiety actually manifests itself.

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is an ode to depression. Beginning with an eerie tone, mirroring the darkness depression can bring to one’s life, Ned Vizzini was able to use his own experience in a Mental Hospital to aid him in the creation of this beautifully written, crazily poignant story. From the darkest of depths to the most wonderful of “shifts,” this story insights deep thoughts and a journey to be remembered forever.

As one of the most popular classics of all time, most people don’t realize the way “Catcher in the Rye” lends itself to the concept of depression. From the ode to Holden’s visit to a mental hospital at the very beginning to his constant view of the world as “phony,” it seems as though JD Salinger was mirroring his own experience with depression through a character with whom everyone can identify.

Allie Brosh put her everything into “Hyperbole and a Half,” and it shows. Weaving the reader through all kinds of emotions, from crying laughing to mournful sobbing. Her experience with depression brought her quickly and severely into a place where she could either do nothing at all, laying in bed for hours or even days on end, or she burst into a productive fervor, shouting “Do all the things!” And with “Hyperbole and a Half,” Brosh has definitely done all of the things. With this poignant graphic novel, Brosh has shone the spotlight on an often stigmatized battle — the battle with oneself.

Although these four stories are very different, they all have one thing in common. Their effect on the world of mental health is profound. Donning a new light on how common these mental health battles are, their profundity is mind-blowing. It takes a talented author to do what these four have, but it is inevitable that more books like these will enter the mental health rotation in years to come.