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Mental Health Awareness Month: Resources

by Mary Laffey on 2024-05-08T10:56:00-05:00 | 0 Comments

The beginning of May signals the end of the spring semester and the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to encouraging self care, remembering those who have been lost to mental illness, and raising awareness about mental health to create lasting change.

Mental illness has long been mistreated by medical professionals, misrepresented in literature and media, and misunderstood by most of society. People who suffer from mental illness are often perceived as “crazy” or “insane” because there is seemingly no physical evidence of their pain. Many characters in literature and media with mental illness have been portrayed as subhuman or violent such as Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre, the “true story” Sybil, Norman Bates in Psycho, or Michael Meyers in Halloween. Historical attempts to cure mental illness have resulted in inhumane treatments and the creation of asylums to isolate “the insane” from the rest of the population, when in reality, more human interaction is needed. As a result of these influences, society has developed a warped understanding of mentally ill individuals, falsely believing them to be excessively violent and dangerous.

In truth, 1 in every 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, meaning that most Americans struggle with mental health issues on a day to day basis (NAMI). Mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness, so raising awareness is imperative to erasing the stigma around mental health. Below are some of the library’s positive research and learning materials on mental health awareness, including a LibGuide, films, personal narratives, books, and more…

LGBTQ Mental Health : International Perspectives and Experiences by Nakamura, N. & Logie, Carmen H. editors (2020) -- LGBTQ Mental Health: International Perspectives and Experiences expands our understanding of mental health by considering the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ communities in the Majority World. Increased globalization and migration have highlighted the need for mental health clinicians to better understand these communities' experiences and needs. Contributors summarize existing research on mental health outcomes for LGBTQ individuals in these countries or regions; offer key insights that challenge culturally specific conceptions of normative, LGBTQ mental health and behavior; and offer recommendations for further research and mental health practice with these populations.


Peace is Every Step by Thích Nhất Hạnh -- In the rush of modern life we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment. World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. A ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to "mindfulness," the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.


I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy -- A memoir by Jennette McCurdy about her childhood as a child star, her problematic relationship with her mother, and her struggles with eating disorders, addiction, body image, and mental health. The book is divided into two sections, "Before" and "After", which describe the events of her life before and after her mother's death from cancer in 2013, as well as her journey toward self-acceptance and reconciling her past and current relationship with her abusive mother.


Awakenings -- Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is a shy research physician who uses an experimental drug to "awaken" the catatonic victims of a rare disease. The awakening of the first patient proves a rebirth for the doctor, too, as the patient reveals life's simple but sweet pleasures to the introverted doctor. Encouraged by Leonard's stunning recovery, Sayer administers the drug to other patients, finding new meaning in life and providing more patients with a renewed passion for life.


Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky -- This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.


A Beautiful Mind -- From the heights of notoriety to the depths of depravity, John Forbes Nash, Jr. experienced it all. A mathematical genius, he made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. But the handsome and arrogant Nash soon found himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery. After many years of struggle, he eventually triumphed over his tragedy, and finally - late in life - received the Nobel Prize.


Insane : America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness by Alisa Roth -- In America, having a mental illness has become a crime. One in four fatal police shootings involves a person with mental illness. The country's three largest providers of mental health care are not hospitals, but jails. As many as half the people in US jails and prisons have a psychiatric disorder. In Insane, journalist Alisa Roth goes deep inside the criminal justice system to reveal how America's tough-on-crime policies have transformed it into a warehouse for people with mental illness, one where prisoners are denied proper treatment, abused, and punished in ways that make them sicker. Investigating police departments, courts, jails, and emergency health-care facilities across the country, Roth provides the first nationwide account of this mental health crisis--and uncovers the hidden forces behind it.


Mind museums : Former Asylums and the Heritage of Mental Health by Lanz F. (2024) -- Mind Museums offer a fresh perspective on the heritage of mental health, bringing museums into sharp focus by examining former psychiatric asylums that have been converted into museums and exploring their potential to raise awareness and dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health. By uncovering the power of these heritage sites in facilitating discussions on mental health, civility, and care, Lanz provides new insights into the emotive capacity of the museum and visitors' reflexivity at place-based memory sites.


The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health by Walker, R & Akbar, N. (2020) -- There is an unaddressed Black mental health crisis in our world today. This book is an exploration of Black mental health in today’s world, the forces that have undermined mental health progress for African Americans, and what needs to happen for African Americans to heal psychological distress, find community, and undo years of stigma and marginalization in order to access effective mental health care. Psychologist and African American mental health expert Rheeda Walker offers important information on the mental health crisis in the Black community, how to combat stigma, spot potential mental illness, how to practice emotional wellness, and how to get the best care possible in a system steeped in racial bias.


21st Century Media and Female Mental Health Profitable Vulnerability and Sad Girl Culture by Thelandersson, F. (2023) -- While early 21st century media was marked by a distinct focus on happiness, productivity, and success, during the 2010s negative feelings and discussions around mental health have become increasingly common in that same media landscape. This book traces this turn to sadness in women’s media culture and shows that it emerged indirectly as a result of a culture overtly focused on happiness. Using discourse analysis and digital ethnography to study contemporary representations of mental illness and sadness in Western popular media and social media, this book takes a feminist media studies approach to popular discourse, understanding the conversations happening around mental health in these sites to function as scripts for how to think about and experience mental illness and sadness.



“Mental Health Awareness Month.” NAMI, 24 April 2024.

“Mental Health by the Numbers.” NAMI, 3 May 2024.

Public Libraries Singapore. “Exploring Mental Illness in Literature.” Medium. 4 February, 2021.

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