Mental Health Awareness Month: Acknowledging Personal Struggle During Global Crisis

The month of May, designated Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, gives us the opportunity to remember that well-being means mental as well as physical health. Most of us are feeling a bit more stressed and anxious than usual: what about those whose struggles are chronic or even life-long? Perhaps now is a good time to try to understand and empathize with the challenges faced by those suffering from long-stigmatized mental illnesses.

Our e-collections can support this quest! Two specially-curated collections in hoopla offer audio-visual perspective on some specific mental health issues, from bipolar disorder to eating disorders to manic depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder to schizophrenia and even postpartum depression. 2020 APL Mental Health Awareness Month: Audio offers a sample reading list from medical professionals, biographers, memoirists, and historians.

For a compelling autobiography written by a medical expert who, in the throes of fighting brain cancer, experienced symptoms similar to those suffered by dementia and schizophrenia patients, you might try the well-regarded book The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind by Barbara K. Lipska. Talk about learning empathy from the inside out!

The companion film collection in hoopla (2020 APL Mental Health Awareness Month: Film) features a number of documentary approaches to mental illness. By observing and acknowledging others’ struggles with mental health, we can individually and collectively remove the age-old stigma and fear of “madness” and strive to make the world a kinder place for sufferers.

Some of the bravest and most affecting writing about mental illness comes from those who have been there themselves. Amazingly, some of these writers have been able to wring humor and hope from otherwise harrowing experiences. For searingly honest but strangely uplifting–and yes, even funny–listens, try Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things and the newly-released The Hilarious World of Depression by radio announcer and podcaster John Moe. Both audio titles are available in Overdrive/Libby.

And remember that your awareness and concern support those who might otherwise be suffering almost invisibly during these difficult times.

Rediscovering Biographies

Rediscover the biography genre, one of the oldest, most significant and popular genres in literature.

Read about famous and eminent people, learn more about them, and sometimes be surprised. The subjects of other biographies in the display are people whose names you may never have heard of. There are individual biographies and collective biographies, such as family biographies.

Books presented in this display are the newest biographies in our digital collection, highly recommended in the press.

The following are a few titles that stand out, even among the other critically acclaimed books.

The subjects of the new biography from Adam Hochschild are political activist Rose Stokes and her idealistic upper-class reformer husband Graham Stokes, their magical love story, and marriage.

 At the start of the 20th century the couple was among the Rich & Famous, often the subject of newspaper headlines, and their circle included the most notable and interesting people of their time. 

Adam Hochschild is a journalist and nonfiction writer, known for his books on the social justice movement, such as King Leopold’s Ghost and Spain in Our Hearts.

This biography is a delight for baseball buffs, with the legendary baseball player Yogi Berra as its subject.

The sportswriter Jon Pessah gives a wide-ranging account of Berra’s career and his evolution into one of the  greatest players, as well as his post-player careers as a team manager and a coach. 

It is also a story of a human being, with all his triumphs and heartbreaks, overcoming obstacles. 

The book is peppered with fun anecdotes of the golden era.

Fun fact: he coined some aphorisms, and eight of those Yogi-isms are in the famous book of Bartlett’s Quotations.

If you’ve seen the TV series The Crown, you will definitely recognize the main character of this book, Lady Glenconner, the maid of honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and the lady-in-waiting for Princess Margaret.

Sharing stories with the visiting actors preparing for their roles in The Crown inspired the book. You will read about the private lives of the royal family and society elite through the eyes of Lady Glenconner. You will learn about her private life and her family. Her sense of humor, which shines through her writing, gained much praise.

The book was selected as the Times (UK) Memoir of the Year.

This Oprah’s Book Club Pick is a biography of a family with 12 children, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the role the family played in helping scientists understand the illness.

It is also an authoritative look at the disease itself, and a record of evolution of thoughts on its biology and nature.

The book is based on very thorough research and multiple interviews with family members and close family friends.

Read more biographies on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.