...and why aren’t authors writing characters dealing with mental health?
While I do read the occasional contemporary and mystery, I mostly read fantasy. While I don’t have many problems with mental health, I know many people who do and only read fantasy. Those people want to see themselves represented! Representation is SO important in books, because it helps the reader really connect with the story and character more.
Even though fantasy books are set in a fantasy world, mental health rep makes the characters seem more realistic. Many fantasy books I’ve read deal with war and death- it’s more realistic if a character is struggling with, say, PTSD from a war, than if that war didn’t change them at all. This will also make the characters seem more relatable to a reader who is also going through the same thing. Another pro to this is that reading about a character going through the same thing as you can be a huge comfort and make you feel a lot better.
Fantasy books usually contain heroes or character trying to save something-- the world, their friends, etc. Seeing someone you identify with being a hero is not only a self-esteem booster, but it is also comforting to know that no matter your identity, you can still do great things! You don’t have to let mental health constrict you from being amazing!
Well, if mental health rep is so important, why aren’t authors writing about mental health in their fantasy books?
One reason may be difficulty- sometimes writing about mental health can be hard, both literally and figuratively. Mental health adds another layer of complexity to a character, and I love complex characters, but an author who has just started writing or isn’t very experienced may not be comfortable writing such a complicated character. Additionally, writing about a certain mental health disorder may have a negative effect on the author- and we don’t want that! I myself sometimes have trouble writing about mental health because I’ve struggled with it and I know friends who have, and that stirs up too many unwanted memories.
Another reason may be that authors may be scared that they’ll inaccurately represent mental health. This is true for people who aren’t having trouble with mental health and don’t know firsthand who someone would deal with it. This can be both a good or bad thing- sometimes inaccurate representation is worse than no representation at all.
That’s all for this post! I really hope you enjoyed reading this- I had a lot of fun writing it! What are some fantasy books you’ve read with mental health rep? Do you have any more reasons for why mental health rep in fantasy is so important?
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