Suggestions for understanding mental health through different media.

THRIVE month is a time to start thinking about our mental well-being and what we can do to improve it and support others around us.

Mental health is a difficult topic to talk about because it is heavily stigmatized by society as a problem, rather than a natural thing that we all share and should look after. Mental health looks different for each one of us. A lot of people are fine, but a lot of people are challenged with mental health; and just like the athlete who breaks his leg, people who are mentally struggling need help.

Since having this conversation is still difficult, I thought I would suggest a few places to start: books and online resources can help to educate ourselves on the experiences of those who struggle with mental health.

I was inspired by (Don’t) Call Me Crazy, a book that collects the voices of various artists, athletes, and actors, who not only tell their mental health stories but speak to the way society is talking about mental health and better ways to understand and help “crazy” people.

Please be aware that the topics (especially in the books) may not be easy to handle. If you are not in a good place, postpone the reading of these books, until you feel better and more comfortable hearing about experiences involving suicide, depression, addiction, etc.

Fiction Books

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

A modern classic, this novel relates the story of Charlie, a freshman in high school who is dealing with a traumatic past and just wants to make it through his last four years of school. He meets amazing friends that help him through, but he still has a lot to deal with mentally and his journey is marked by incredible resilience and amazing empathy.

  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This novel tells the story of Leigh Chen, a girl who lost her mother to suicide. Leigh absolutely believes that her mother is a bird in the after-life and goes on a journey to Taiwan to try to reconnect with her mother’s side of the family, uncovering some secrets on her way.

  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

For all the fantasy-lovers out there, this is the perfect pick. Rather than focusing on an individual narrative, this book focuses on the consequences of societal trauma. How does a kingdom survive and move on from years of violence, trauma, and gaslighting towards a better future?

This book is part of a trilogy, but it is not necessary to read the first two to understand this one.

  • When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

The story of two girls, each dealing with their own mental challenges within the Latinx community, one of them attempting suicide and both finding each other in the darkest of times. This novel gives a great intercultural perspective on mental health.

Instagram accounts

  • @bcsskelowna

British Columbia Schizophrenia Society. This is a province-wide family support system, who raise funds for research and to make mental health resources available for the community. They put up informational posts on mental illnesses, tips and tricks to notice and help people that may be struggling, and suggestions to improve mental well-being.

  • @mhaac.ubco

A Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Club. New on-campus organization that promotes events to raise mental health awareness at UBCO. They post self-care and self-compassion tips and tricks, in addition to all the events on mental health going on around campus.

  • @timetochangecampaign

This campaign started in 2007 to change the way we think and talk about mental health. Its main purpose is to end mental health discrimination and negative attitudes towards people that are struggling. They do advocacy work in school, the workplace, and internationally.

  • @anxiety_wellbeing

Posts that help you reduce your anxiety and stress levels by giving tips and tricks on everyday life situations and thoughts.

Influencers/ YouTubers

  • Kati Morton

A licensed therapist making mental health videos. She explains in a clear and digestible manner how various mental illnesses manifest, how to help yourself if you are suffering, and how to help others in distress.

  • Jay Shetty

This man is a life coach who started uploading wisdom bits on YouTube and Facebook which went viral. His story is admirable. He was a monk for three years and then turned his experiences into a passion and a career. He gives practical, tested advice on how to have a better life.

  • Radhi Devlukia

She is a plant-based recipe developer that uploads delicious foodstagram posts, in addition to well-being posts. She practices everything she preaches and fully believes in the restorative powers of meditation.