SJ Engage: Mental Health

"I wish people could understand that the brain is the most important organ of our body. Just because you can't see mental illness like you could see a broken bone, doesn't mean it's not as detrimental or devastating to a family or an individual."

- Demi Lovato

In SJ Engage's very first year, we received an overwhelming amount of teens and young adults who revealed that they're passionate about mental health. Specifically, the responses centered around the topics of depression and anxiety, and how they see their family and friends being affected by these mental disorders. It's a topic that's shrouded in stigma and we're here to break those barriers and start the conversation with the resources below.

Ready to get started? Click on the button below!

Resources - Nonfiction

Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health, book cover
Your Brain Needs a Hug: Life, Love, Mental Health, and Sandwiches, book cover
The Book of No Worries: a Survival Guide for Growing Up, book cover
Superhero Therapy, book cover
Being Me With OCD, book cover
The Dangers of Drug Abuse, book cover
Out of Order, book cover
(Don't) Call Me Crazy, book cover
Mental Health Information for Teens, book cover
All Better Now: a Memoir, book cover
Invisible Girl, book cover
Yoga for your Mind and Body: A Teenage Practice for A Healthy, Balanced Life, book cover

Resources - Fiction

The Weight of Our Sky, book cover
The Impossible Knife of Memory, book cover
Madness, book cover
A Heart in A Body in the World, book cover
The Surprising Power of A Good Dumpling, book cover
All Our Broken Pieces, book cover
How It Feels to Float, book cover
Six Goodbyes We Never Said, book cover
Turtles All the Way Down, book cover
Darius the Great Is Not Okay, book cover
Finding Audrey, book cover
When We Collided, book cover
Before I Let Go, book cover
All the Bright Places, book cover
I Will Save You, book cover
Challenger Deep, book cover
History Is All You Left Me, book cover
Every Last Word, book cover
It's Kind of A Funny Story, book cover
Words on Bathroom Walls, book cover
Imagine Us Happy, book cover


  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – The nation's largest mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
  • Bring Change to Mind (BC2M) – A San Francisco-based organization dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
  • Momentum for Mental Health – The largest nonprofit provider of mental health services in Santa Clara County offering treatment for adults, teens and families experiencing serious mental illness.



For Educators

This toolkit is just a framework for facilitating an SJ Engage Circle.


Sample Discussion Questions

Take a minute: Think of just one word, phrase, or image that relates to why you think it is difficult for us to talk about mental health issues. Write it down if you wish, or draw a picture.

  1. What does mental health mean to me? What does mental health mean to us?
  2. What experiences in your life, work, school, or your family inform what you believe about mental health?
  3. In your experience, how are mental health issues affecting young people and the schools? How do mental health issues affect you and your peers?
  4. Do you think your cultural background influences how you think about mental health? If so, how?
  5. Why is mental health an important or not so important issue in your community?
  6. In your experience, how are mental health issues in the community intertwined with issues of substance abuse? How are they intertwined with physical health on an individual or community level?


Common Core: ELA Writing

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.9 – Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards: Action

  • AC.9-12.17 – I take responsibility for standing up to exclusion, prejudice, and injustice.


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This project has been made possible in part by a grant from Silicon Valley Community Foundation.