YA Anxiety and Mental Health

When feelings of intense fear and distress are overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday things, an anxiety disorder may be the cause. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 40 million adults (19%) in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder.

Anger Is a Gift

Mark Oshiro
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Oshiro)

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

An Appetite for Miracles

Laekan Zea Kemp
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Kemp)

Danna's grandfather is slowly losing himself as his memories fade, and she's not sure her plan to help him remember will be enough to bring him back. Raúl has been lost ever since his mother was wrongly incarcerated, playing guitar for the elderly has been his only escape. When Danna and Raúl meet, they embark on a mission to heal her grandfather and themselves.

The Cartographers

Amy Zhang
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Zhang)

Ocean defers her acceptance to the university of her immigrant mother's dreams and moves from the Midwest to New York City. There, she meets Constantine, and finds herself in entirely new territory without a map. In order to find her way, she'll need to open her heart, exhume the past, accept help from her friends, and trust herself.

Challenger Deep

Neal Shusterman
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Shuster)

A teenage boy struggles with schizophrenia.

The Chandler Legacies

Abdi Nazemian
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Nazemia)

At Chandler, the elite boarding school, five teens are brought together in the Circle, a coveted writing group where life-changing friendships are born—and secrets are revealed. Their professor tells them to write their truths, but is the truth enough to change the long-standing culture of abuse at Chandler?

Chaos Theory

Nic Stone
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Stone)

Since Shelbi enrolled at Windward Academy as a senior and won't be there very long, she hasn't bothered making friends. Andy is not okay. He's had far too much to drink. When Shelbi sees Andy at his lowest, she can relate. So she doesn't resist reaching out. But the closer they get, the more the past threatens to pull their universes apart.

Darius the Great is Not Okay

Adib Khorram
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Khorram)

Clinically depressed Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore, travels to Iran to meet his grandparents, but it's their next-door neighbor, Sohrab, who changes his life.

An Emotion of Great Delight

Tahereh Mafi
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Mafi)

In the wake of 9/11, Shadi, a child of Muslim immigrants, tries to navigate her crumbling world in silence, until finally, everything changes. Her brother is dead, her father is dying, her mother is falling apart, and her best friend has dropped out of her life. Shadi devours her own pain—retreating farther inside herself—until finally, one day, she explodes.

Felix Ever After

Kacen Callender
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Callend)

Felix Love has never been in love, painful irony that it is. He is proud of his identity, but fears that he's one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages, Felix comes up with a plan for revenge.

I Am Not Alone

Francisco X. Stork
(Young Adult Fiction – Y Stork)

When Alberto and Grace meet, they have an immediate and electric connection. But when Alberto is present at the scene of a terrible crime, he becomes a suspect. And with his developing schizophrenia, he's not even sure he believes in his own innocence. Can Grace find a way to prove Alberto's innocence to himself and the world?

If I Can Give You That

Michael Gray Bulla
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Bulla)

Gael, a trans boy, learns to let his walls down while finding community, discovering his sexuality, falling in love, and navigating difficult family situations.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Sara Barnard
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Barnard)

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life—she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk and, as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

The Silence That Binds Us

Joanna Ho
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Ho)

In the year following their son's death, May Chen's parents face racist accusations of putting too much pressure on their son and causing his death by suicide. May attempts to challenge the racism and ugly stereotypes through her writing, only to realize that she still has a lot to learn and that her actions have consequences for her family, as well as herself.

Tilly in Technicolor

Mazey Eddings
(Young Adult Fiction – Y Eddings)

When Tilly goes to London to intern for her sister's company, she begins to unmask her ADHD and connects with Oliver, another neurodivergent intern.

We Are All So Good at Smiling

Amber McBride
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Mcbride)

When hospitalized for her clinical depression, Whimsy connects with a boy named Faerry, who also suffers from the traumatic loss of a sibling. Together, they work to unearth buried memories and battle the fantastical physical embodiment of their depression.

The Weight of Our Sky

Hanna Alkaf
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Hannaal)

Amidst the Chinese-Malay conflict in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, 16-year-old Melati must overcome prejudice, violence, and her own OCD to find her way back to her mother.

White Smoke

Tiffany D. Jackson
(Young Adult Fiction – Y Jackson)

The phantoms of her old life keep haunting Marigold, but a move with her newly blended family from California to the Midwest might be the fresh start she needs after her struggle with addiction. However, their renovated new home on Maple Street has secrets; items vanish, doors open on their own, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there is a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice.

Graphic Novels
Hungry Ghost

Victoria Ying
(Graphic Novels - GN Ying Hungry Ghost)

Valerie Chu is quiet, studious, and above all, thin. No one, not even her best friend, Jordan, knows that she has been binging and purging for years. But when tragedy strikes, Val finds herself taking a good, hard look at her priorities, her choices, and her own body.

In Limbo

Deb Jj Lee
(Graphic Novels - GN Lee In Limbo)

Ever since Deborah (Jung-Jin) Lee emigrated from South Korea to the United States, she's felt her "otherness." In high school, everything gets harder; friendships change and end, she falls behind in classes, and fights with her mom escalate. Caught in limbo with nowhere safe to go, Deb finds her mental health plummeting, resulting in a suicide attempt.

Just Roll with It

Lee Durfey-Lavoie
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J GN Durfey-Lavoie Just Roll With It)

As long as Maggie rolls the right number, nothing can go wrong, right? Maggie just wants to get through her first year of middle school. But between finding the best after-school clubs and trying to make friends, she's having a tough time, so she might need a little help from her 20-sided dice. But what happens if Maggie rolls the wrong number?

Nonfiction Resources
Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health

Melanie Siebert
(Teen Nonfiction - 616.89 Sie)

This nonfiction book for teen readers is a guide to understanding mental health and coping with mental illness, trauma, and recovery. It features real-life stories of resilient teens and highlights innovative approaches to mental health challenges.

Not Just About Food: Understanding Eating Disorders

Carol Sonenklar
(Teen Nonfiction - 616.8526 Son)

In the United States, approximately 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder. Learn about the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of eating disorders, as well as treatments. Resources for identifying, treating, and recovering from eating disorders are provided in the text.

A Perfectionist Guide to Not Being Perfect

Bonnie Zucker
(Teen Nonfiction - 155.232 Zuc)

Encourages teens to maintain their desire to achieve without striving to always be perfect and to appreciate and love who they are, not for what they accomplish.

The Racial Trauma Handbook for Teens

Támara Hill
(Teen Nonfiction - 305.8009 Hil)

Racial trauma can reverberate for generations and lead to anxiety, irritability, anger, depression, low self-esteem, shame, and guilt. This book provides readers with evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) skills to heal the wounds of personal and intergenerational trauma, increase self-awareness, and build confidence.

Reach Out: Tips for Helping Someone in Crisis

Jill C. Wheeler
(Teen Nonfiction - 362.22 Whe)

Discusses expert advice for helping people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. It explores the kinds of crisis that might prompt this along with the smartest and safest ways to help those in need.

The Self-Care Kit for Stressed Out Teens

Frankie Young
(Teen Nonfiction - 155.9042 You)

A guide for teens with tips and strategies to stay as stress-free through the teen years with various coping skills and more.

The Teen Anxiety Guidebook

Jon Patrick Hatcher, Dr. Thomas McDonagh
(Teen Nonfiction - 616.8522 Mcd)

Break free from anxiety and manage stress with simple strategies and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques in this straightforward and encouraging handbook.

When Anxiety Makes You Angry

Kelsey Torgerson Dunn
(Teen Nonfiction - 616.8522 Dun)

Using an approach rooted in evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), this book helps teen readers identify the anxiety beneath their outbursts, practice acceptance of difficult emotions—rather than fighting or trying to ignore them—and learn healthy coping and self-regulation skills.

Where to Start: A Survival Guide to Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Challenges

Mental Health America
(Teen Nonfiction - 362.2083 Whe)

A resource for anyone who's struggling emotionally and looking for help, from the nation's leading community-based nonprofit that addresses the needs of those living with mental illness.

Your Brain Needs a Hug: Life, Love, Mental Health, and Sandwiches

Rae Earl
(Teen Nonfiction - 613.0433 Ear)

This book is filled with the author's friendly advice, coping strategies and laugh-out-loud moments to get you through the difficult days. Witty, honest, and enlightening, this is the perfect read for feeling happier and healthier and learning to navigate life without feeling overwhelmed or isolated.