1. The Next Day by Jason Gilmore, Paul Peterson, and John Porcellino

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Photo: Good Reads

Rather than focus on any one particular mental illness, The Next Day explores the persistent suicidal thoughts that can accompany mental disorders. The book is constructed from intimate interviews with survivors of near-fatal suicide attempts. In this poetic and profound philosophical exploration, four seemingly ordinary people each offer haunting personal insight into life, the decision to end it, and what comes after…accompanied by John Porcellino’s stripped down illustrations.

2. Look Straight Ahead by Elaine M. Will

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Photo: TCJ.com

Jeremy Knowles is a 17-year-old outcast who dreams of being a great artist. But when he suffers a severe mental breakdown brought on by bullying and other pressures at school, his future is called into question — as is his very existence! Can he survive the experience through the healing power of art? And just what does it mean to be “crazy,” anyway?

3. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

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Photo: Amazon.com

Cartoonist Ellen Forney explores the relationship between “crazy” and “creative” in this graphic memoir of her bipolar disorder, woven with stories of famous bipolar artists and writers.

4. Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham

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Photo: NPR.org

Psychiatric Tales draws on Darryl Cunningham’s time working in a psychiatric ward to give a reasoned and sympathetic look into the world of mental illness. In each chapter, Cunningham explores a different mental health problem, using evocative imagery to describe the experience of mental illness, both from the point of view of those beset by illness and their friends and relatives. As Cunningham reveals this human experience, he also shows how society’s perceptions of and reactions to mental illness perpetuate needless stigma, for example, the myth that schizophrenic people are more likely to commit crimes than non-schizophrenic people.

5. Invisible Injury: Beyond PTSD by Jeff Severns Guntzel and Andy Warner

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Photo: Public Insight Network

The Public Insight Network, WBUR and the comics news magazine Symbolia collaborated on interviewing veterans about their experiences moving on from war and the limits of the post traumatic stress disorder diagnosis in explaining what happens to many people who go through the experience of war.

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