Mental health needs to be featured more in romance books

Part of the selection of paperback romance novels available for sale at the Friends of the Abilene Public Library book sale.Books3
Part of the selection of paperback romance novels available for sale at the Friends of the Abilene Public Library book sale.Books3 /

Romance books are meant to be an escape for most people. In some ways though, it can be cathartic to read about a character who is going through something similar to you or is dealing with something you can’t even imagine. In particular, that’s especially important as May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Whether it’s in books or life, mental health is something that is still rarely discussed. While therapy has started to become more widely accepted and talked about, other aspects related to mental health are still not given the attention they deserve. That’s partly why mental health is still such a taboo subject.

Essentially, mental health never being discussed in life doesn’t leave a lot of room for it to be discussed in the fictional realm either. That’s why it’s important for more books, especially romance books, to incorporate it as a plotline.

It might be not the prettiest picture, but it’s time for the romance genre to level up when it comes to certain aspects, especially mental health.

Why isn’t mental health featured more in romance books and the genre as a whole?

Most of us still consider mental health a taboo subject. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to talk about ourselves or share our weaknesses. No matter the reason, it’s only becoming more of a taboo subject in us not talking about it.

When mental health is featured in any book, it’s usually because the person is mentally ill, and it’s usually the cause of their problems or the reason why they can’t have a relationship. Frankly, that’s one way to look at it. But sometimes, being able to be in those relationships can help your mental health. That’s not to say a relationship can fix your mental health as it’s not a substitute.

Looking at a 2022 releaseWeather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon does an excellent job of featuring a romance with a mental health plotline. Throughout the story, Ari deals with depression and it honestly makes her a much more relatable character. You can tell by her actions and some of the things she says that her depression is a part of her life but it doesn’t overtake her life.

While Ari’s depression does play a role in the conflict, it’s not the entire reason behind it. Rather, Rachel Lynn Solomon allows Ari to be in a happy and committed relationship while also managing her depression in her own way. Her mental health is discussed but doesn’t become a “dark cloud” over the story.

More and more, we are seeing romance authors feature mental health plotlines including Talia Hibbert, Chloe Liese, and Sarah Hogle. Regardless, those don’t cover all of the mental health conditions out there. Instead, it would be nice to see books featuring characters who struggle with eating disorders, addiction, or PTSD getting their happily-ever-afters.

Next. Selena Gomez launches new mental health campaign. dark

The romance genre isn’t going to change overnight. But it’s time for mental health stories to not be sad and depressing. I want to see people dealing with their mental health who are having fun, falling in love, and generally doing their best. Is that too much to ask for?