Books Can Improve Mental Health of Teens


Submitted by Jena Lowry

Many students turn to books for comfort when dealing with a tough situation.

Jena Lowry, Staff Reporter

Is there a time you can think of when you were reading a book, speeding through it, knowing you loved it, and then reached that one sentence that practically screamed your name? The book provided a feeling of comfort for you, it gave you a sense that you were not alone. A feeling of being connected to someone who doesn’t even exist, or feeling connected with the author can be a meaningful experience.

Books can be powerful. Books give us information, they help us escape reality or provide a distraction from tough times, and they entertain. Best of all, books can help individuals manage their mental health. What do books actually do for you and your mental health—besides make you cry? What lessons can you learn from books that you can carry in the back of your mind for the rest of your days? 

Discovering the right book at the right time could help you during a time of struggle. People can pick out what they notice in a book that almost directly relates to their current situation. As humans, we might always find a way to relate something to us or our opinions. Maybe the book is about a divorce, a controversial topic you feel passionately about, or a mental health problem that you experience. 

Sophomore Cooper Duvall is a fan of books and believes they are impactful.  He said, “They might impact mental health in a way that depends on what we’re reading. For example, if you were reading a book about death and suffering, then you would be sad.” 

Different types or genres of books seem to work for different types or even generations of people. English teacher Rebecca Adams works at Elkhorn Crossing School.  Adams said, “Young adult genres are specifically good at describing and pinpointing emotions a young person would experience, and they usually generate happy endings so that any person reading could know there will always be a good outcome.” 

As well as providing helpful information, books can also serve as a distraction from the stress and anxiety of daily life for some people. Junior Josie Falk struggles with anxiety and says that reading can distract her from those thoughts. “I read whenever I get anxious or need a distraction. It always provides a way to relax and take a break from the stress of school or life in general,” she explained.  

Reading a book helps close off those negative thoughts and focus on the present. It grounds you and helps your negative emotions to shift. In Duvall’s case, he reads whenever he has a bad day at school to help him feel better. 

“I would say that reading a book from the perspective of someone that’s going through something similar to you would be the most beneficial for mental health. Sometimes it’s good to hear about other people’s experiences and see how they dealt with things,” Falk said.