You’re Not Alone: Mental Health Nonfiction Picks for Teens

As mental health struggles get more time in the spotlight, mental health nonfiction books have been cropping up aimed a variety of demographics. In fact, many options are now available just for teens. This list looks at great resources for those who are struggling with mental health issues or want to help someone that is.

Now, I want to be clear in saying that I was very conscious of readability when pulling these titles. A good book in this area is useless if the writing is akin to banging your head against a wall. It is more important for these books to be engaging than even a standard Y.A. fiction offering that you recommend.

Also, while these selections mostly cater to teens, the high readability makes them good for anyone interested in improving mental health without being insanely bored. Without further ado, let’s get ready to be mentally healthy!

The List (A.K.A. – What You’re Here For)

  • Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health by Kati Morton
    • Licensed family therapist Kati Morton’s book is one of the most useful and accessible on this list. This book is laid out in a Q&A format with a friendly tone that doesn’t judge or look down on anyone seeking help. It leads readers through the most common questions about mental health topics and the process involved with getting help. The down-to-earth writing even helps to destigmatize the struggles that many people go through. 
  • Your Brain Needs a Hug: Life, Love, Mental Health, and Sandwiches by Rae Earl
    • The author of this book dealt with anxiety, an eating disorder, and OCD while she was a teenager. In this book, she shares coping strategies, funny moments to get others through difficult days, and frank, friendly advice. The style of the book is written like someone who has “been there.” Readers feel like they are being talked to in an honest yet funny way. It is a great pick for those who need a mental health pick-me-up. Also look up Rae Earl’s It’s All in Your Head for another solid option in the realm of teen mental health nonfiction.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Handling Life with a Calm and Focused Mind by Whitney Stewart
    • Stress, anxiety, and depression can begin to get hardcore the teen years for the most part. Adulthood is better if good habits are developed for handling mental health as a teen. This book seeks to teach practical skills. Specifically, it looks into examining emotions, keeping a tab on social media habits, wellness routines, and managing stress levels. The writing uses a lens of the teen experience to frame things – making it very useful for day-to-day mental health support.
  • Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson
    • From the critically acclaimed author of This Book Is Gay, this particular book looks at taking care of mental health just as much as we do physical health. In addition to Juno’s own funny stories, it features real-life mental health tales from young people around the world. Comic illustrations from Gemma Correll increase the fun factor, and practical information from clinical psychologist Dr. Olivia Hewitt helps to cover a wide range of mental health issues faced by teens whether short-term or long-term.
  • The Teenager’s Guide to Life, the Universe, and Being Awesome by Andy Cope
    • After spending 10 years researching “positive psychology” at Loughborough University, Andy Cope has what he refers to as a “PhD in Happiness” – in addition to being a best-selling children’s author (Spy Dog series). This book takes a different angle on mental health for teens. It actually serves as a prompt for thinking about the bigger picture. Who a teen wants to be, what they want from life, and trying to figure out what they want from life are asked. Since these questions show up in stories and don’t come from an adult authority figure, teens can truly think about them.
  • (Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen (editor)
    • This book is a conversation starter about mental health. It looks at how we talk about mental health (or how we don’t). Composed of the pieces from 33 writers, artists, and athletes, the contributors explore their personal experiences with mental health struggles. There are essays, comics, illustrations, and even funny lists. The balance between straight-up serious and flat-out funny entries means that there is something for everyone. 
  • How To Handle Your Haters: The Hard Truth About Social Media by Omar Arafat
    • Written by a teen for teens, this book delves into how social media can affect mental health. With so many teens on social media, it is important to look at how the platforms have the ability to cause depression and anxiety or even suicide. The teen author spent months researching hate and how to expresses itself online. Omar shares his story on dealing with being the recipient of cyberbullying and coping with online hate too.
  • Starving the Anxiety Gremlin by Kate Collins-Donnelly
    • An oldie but a goodie! This particular book won the Children’s Choice Award at the School Library Association’s Information Book Awards in 2014. It looks into different types of anxiety (general, phobias, panic attacks, and OCD) and how to manage them. The workbook has lots of real-life stories, engaging activities, and practical strategies for youth ages 10 years old and older. 
  • It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I’ve Drawn It Instead by Ruby Elliot
    • Written by the creator of popular Tumblr account “Rubyetc,” this book is a comedic look at mental health. The serious issues of anxiety, body image, depression, and bipolar disorder are put in a very accessible (and even darkly funny way). It is a very good pick for those struggling with the weight that accompanies mental health issues. Also, it is useful for those who could use some exposure to the point of view of those dealing with these problems.


–Brooke Windsor, currently re-watching House – Season 5