Library Journal recently published the coolest, feel-good piece that would make any self-respecting librarian swoon. The heart of the post is that basically, we all want to give the end user the perfect book, the perfect match for their needs. What if the end user is a teen, and they want fiction about characters with mental health issues that match theirs? Welcome to the term bibliotherapy!
Consider that some teens need to hide their mental health issue out of self-protection in a stigma filled world. As the author points out….”kids with mental illness–kids with pills–can be confronted by others trying to buy or steal them. They can also be targets of ridicule.” Therefore, these teens often feel frustrated, alone and afraid to ask for what they need. As librarians, we need to make these books easy to find. Reading is never a replacement for professional therapy, but reading about fictional characters who share your issue can be comforting to the isolated teen! The right books can help.
Erin E. Moulton is a teen librarian and an author and did a fantastic job writing this post. She includes the research base around bibliotherapy, her sources for her 16 mental health categories, and best yet, includes book lists for each disorder. May is Mental Health Month so you have time to consider your collection now. Do you have enough of these titles for a display?
NEW (Added 12/12/14): Bibliotherapy for Teens: An Expanded Booklist by Ashleigh Williams – written based on reader feedback!
Let CMLE staff know if you decide to do your display, we would love to share it with everyone!
Image credit: http://tinyurl.com/ofmn3md, licensed under CC BY 2.0