May is Mental Health Awareness Month
by Emilyn Linden
One thing we’re starting to do better as a society is to speak more openly about mental health struggles and not shame others who are struggling. Just like any societal change of this magnitude, it’s taken decades and many brave individuals willing to talk about their own mental health problems when speaking out could damage their reputations and relationships. We’ve seen actors like Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher, Elton John, Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyoncé and others share their struggles to help end stigma around the disorders they face(d). Augusten Burrows, Jenny Lawson and Ally Brosh are all authors who write openly, movingly, and humorously about their own mental health problems.
Books about mental illness aren’t new, but it does seem as though more have been published recently as the stigma of mental illness has declined. Memoirs can be wonderful to get a peek into the experience of one person who suffers from a particular disorder and to help us gain empathy for people who share that experience. I just recently finished Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby where she shares candidly about her experiences living with ADHD, PTSD, and on the autism spectrum. It’s a difficult read because Gadsby shares some traumatic experiences, but it’s also a wonderful read because she shares those experiences with empathy for herself and for her readers. This book is probably best for those who’ve watched Gadsby’s Netflix special, Nanette.
We currently have a display up at the library (it will come down at the end of May) featuring books about mental health. It gets refilled as people pick up and check out the books, but some of the current books on there are And Now I Spill the Family Secrets, Are u ok?, Everything is an Emergency, and Depression, Anxiety, and Other Things We Don’t Want to Talk About. It’s a great mix of memoir and nonfiction books for people seeking out information about mental health and mental health disorders.
Emilyn Linden is a librarian in the FDL Public Library Information and Outreach Services department.