Breaking the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness in Literature

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Mental illness is a common yet often misunderstood condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately, there is still a significant stigma surrounding mental illness, making it hard to openly discuss our experiences and seek support. In today's society, we can promote awareness and understanding of mental health through various forms of media, including literature. Through my experiences incorporating more mental health representation into literature as a writer, I've learned that we can create a platform for discussing mental illness and challenging stereotypes.

Why Is Representation in Literature Important?

Literature has the power to transport readers to different worlds and expose them to diverse experiences. When it comes to mental health, novels and nonfiction memoirs can provide readers with the opportunity to empathize with characters who are going through similar struggles. By immersing themselves in these narratives, readers can gain a deeper understanding of what it's like to live with mental illness, even if they do not have firsthand experiences. This understanding can break down barriers and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Creating a Platform for Stories about Mental Illness

The creation of platforms and opportunities for authors to share their stories is essential for promoting awareness and challenging stereotypes. Authors can create narratives that resonate with readers by delving into the experiences of characters suffering from mental illness and providing a platform for them to do so. Literary magazines, anthologies, or crowdfunding initiatives can be used as platforms to support the writing of these stories. The more authors share their own stories about mental illness through their characters, the closer parents will be to having an open conversation with their children about mental illness and eliminating the stigma attached to it. 

The Perks of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Stephen Chbosky's “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is an example of a book that effectively portrays mental illness. Because of its sensitive and relatable portrayal of depression, anxiety, and trauma, this novel has gained critical acclaim. Readers can follow Charlie's journey through high school as he grapples with mental illness. Providing a glimpse into the lives of those struggling with mental health issues, this novel entertains as well as educates readers. My friend recommended the book to me six years ago after I went through my own personal mental health struggle. After reading the book, I felt empowered to continue my story.

After reading “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” I decided to work on the first draft of my young adult romance novel, “Crossing Borders.” It's about a 16-year-old boy named Trae Thomas, who struggles with cerebral palsy, ADHD, panic disorder, and severe depression just like myself, who has a love for creative writing, law enforcement, and “The Andy Griffith Show.” He meets the love of his life, Dora Hernandez, who's 16 years old and is from Tijuana Mexico, is a history nerd and also has cerebral palsy. 

When I developed these characters six years ago, I felt the same way that he did when he found solace, only for them to break up, which caused him to end his life. Now, six years later, I'm going back to school and getting a psychology degree. I'm volunteering with mental health counseling and trying to show people that there's more to your story by working on a mental healthcare application. 

The Benefits of Writing about Mental Illness as an Author

Writing about mental illness can provide both challenges and rewards for authors. Authors have the chance to share their personal experiences with mental illness in a cathartic outlet. By putting words to paper, authors can provide a sense of validation and support to others who may be struggling in silence. Writing about mental illness can serve as a platform for educating readers and promoting awareness. It is through storytelling that authors can challenge stereotypes, provide hope, and inspire empathy in readers, ultimately reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. By turning the pages and seeing themselves, the reader realizes that they aren't the only ones who have been through this, and one story and one book can change someone's life, just as the perks of the wallflower changed mine and helped me feel less afraid of talking about mental health.

The Positive Impact of Sharing Personal Struggles

When authors publicly share their own struggles with mental illness, it can serve as a powerful catalyst for change. By openly discussing their challenges, authors can inspire others who may be going through similar struggles to seek support, challenge misconceptions, and advocate for their own well-being. This honesty not only benefits the author but also has the potential to create a ripple effect, encouraging others to do the same. By fostering a culture of vulnerability and acceptance, we can collectively end the stigma surrounding mental health and disabilities.


Mental illness is a complex and deeply personal issue that affects individuals from all walks of life. By incorporating more representation in literature, we can create a platform for discussing mental health, challenge stereotypes, and provide essential tools for understanding. Through stories like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and platforms like miniature, we can work towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health and disabilities. As authors and readers, it is our responsibility to actively engage in conversations that promote awareness, empathy, and acceptance. Together, we can create a world where mental illness is no longer stigmatized but embraced and treated with compassion.

Want to read more from Tylia? Check out her books.  

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Tylia L. Flores is a twenty-eight-year-old born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. Despite her condition that affects her mobility, she does not allow it to affect her will and determination to make a difference in the world. Through her many life challenges and obstacles, she discovered her passion for writing. Tylia’s goal in life is to share her stories with the world. In doing so, she hopes to help others with disabilities realize that they, too, have the potential to make their dreams come true. Tylia is not only an Amazon bestselling author. She’s a radio show personality and a disability activist.

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