Mental Health: Nonfiction

Ann Jacobus and Nan­cy Bo Flood, authors and edu­ca­tors, offer select­ed non­fic­tion books with men­tal health as a focus. They are main­tain­ing it, so if you have sug­ges­tions, please let us know in the com­ments. Ann and Nan­cy are avail­able for work­shops on this impor­tant top­ic for librar­i­ans, edu­ca­tors, and men­tal health orga­ni­za­tions. Ann Jacobus. Nan­cy Bo Flood.


Wilma Jean the Wor­ry Machine
writ­ten by Julia Cook
illus­trat­ed by Ani­ta DuFal­la
Nation­al Cen­ter for Youth Issues, 2012

Anx­i­ety is a sub­jec­tive sense of wor­ry, appre­hen­sion, and/or fear. It is con­sid­ered to be the num­ber one health prob­lem in Amer­i­ca. Although quite com­mon, anx­i­ety dis­or­ders in chil­dren are often mis­di­ag­nosed and over­looked. Every­one feels fear, wor­ry and appre­hen­sion from time to time, but when these feel­ings pre­vent a per­son from doing what he/she wants and/or needs to do, anx­i­ety becomes a disability.

This fun and humor­ous book address­es the prob­lem of anx­i­ety in a way that relates to chil­dren of all ages. It offers cre­ative strate­gies for par­ents and teach­ers to use that can lessen the sever­i­ty of anx­i­ety. The goal of the book is to give chil­dren the tools need­ed to feel more in con­trol of their anx­i­ety. For those wor­ries that are not in any­one’s con­trol (i.e., the weath­er) a wor­ry hat is introduced.

Includes a note to par­ents and edu­ca­tors with tips on deal­ing with an anx­ious child.

What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck
writ­ten by Dawn Hueb­n­er
illus­trat­ed by Bon­nie Matthews
Mag­i­na­tion Press, 2007
(obses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der, OCD) 

With engag­ing exam­ples, activ­i­ties, and step-by-step instruc­tions, this book helps chil­dren mas­ter the skills need­ed to break free from OCD’s sticky thoughts and urges, and live hap­pi­er lives. This What-to-Do Guide is a good resource for edu­cat­ing, moti­vat­ing, and empow­er­ing chil­dren to work toward change.

This book includes an “Intro­duc­tion to Par­ents and Care­givers.” What-to-Guides for Kids are inter­ac­tive self-help books designed to guide 6 – 12 year old’s and their par­ents through the cog­ni­tive-behav­ioral tech­niques most often used in the treat­ment of var­i­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal con­cerns. Engag­ing, encour­ag­ing, and easy to fol­low, these books edu­cate, moti­vate, and empow­er chil­dren to work towards change.

The Col­lect­ed Schiz­o­phre­nias
writ­ten by Esmé Wei­jun Wang
Gray­wolf Press, 2019
(schiz­o­phre­nia, for adults) 

An inti­mate, mov­ing book writ­ten with the imme­di­a­cy and direct­ness of one who still strug­gles with the effects of men­tal and chron­ic ill­ness, The Col­lect­ed Schiz­o­phre­nias cuts right to the core. Schiz­o­phre­nia is not a sin­gle uni­fy­ing diag­no­sis, and Esmé Wei­jun Wang writes not just to her fel­low mem­bers of the “col­lect­ed schiz­o­phre­nias” but to those who wish to under­stand it as well. 

Open­ing with the jour­ney toward her diag­no­sis of schizoaf­fec­tive dis­or­der, Wang dis­cuss­es the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty’s own dis­agree­ment about labels and pro­ce­dures for diag­nos­ing those with men­tal ill­ness, and then fol­lows an arc that exam­ines the man­i­fes­ta­tions of schiz­o­phre­nia in her life. 

In essays that range from using fash­ion to present as high-func­tion­ing to the depths of a rare form of psy­chosis, and from the fail­ures of the high­er edu­ca­tion sys­tem and the dan­gers of insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion to the com­plex­i­ty of com­pound­ing fac­tors such as PTSD and Lyme dis­ease, Wang’s ana­lyt­i­cal eye, honed as a for­mer lab researcher at Stan­ford, allows her to bal­ance research with per­son­al narrative. 

An essay col­lec­tion of unde­ni­able pow­er, The Col­lect­ed Schiz­o­phre­nias dis­pels mis­con­cep­tions and pro­vides insight into a con­di­tion long misunderstood.

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