30 Writing Prompts About Mental Illness

Writing Prompts about Mental Illness

Mental illness can be a confusing and tricky topic. It’s hard to explain what’s going on in your head sometimes, and there’s a lot of wrong info floating around.

But guess what?

Mental health is super important, just like your physical health. It’s time to ditch the stereotypes and start talking openly about this stuff.

The world’s finally realizing how many people deal with mental illness, and that’s a good thing. By sharing stories, we can explore different experiences and see what it’s really like.

Here we present some writing prompts that will take you on a wild ride through the mental illness landscape. We’ll explore the ups, downs, and everything in between.

Let’s break down the walls of misunderstanding, one prompt at a time!

Writing Prompts About Mental Illness

  1. Many people who excel in their fields, whether it’s academics, sports, or arts, often face immense pressure to maintain their performance. This pressure can sometimes lead to anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that they hide from the world. Write a story about a top student or athlete who is secretly battling a mental illness and how they navigate their double life.

  2. Generations can carry the weight of past traumas, passing down pain, fears, and behaviors. This can manifest in various mental health challenges for descendants who might not even be aware of the original events. Craft a narrative that delves into a family’s history of trauma and how it affects the current generation.

  3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not just about cleanliness or checking things repeatedly. It’s a complex disorder where individuals have uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts and behaviors. Write a day in the life of someone with severe OCD, showcasing their internal battles and the rituals they feel compelled to perform.

  4. On the outside, someone might seem cheerful, always ready with a joke or a smile. But behind that facade, they could be battling severe depression. Narrate the story of a comedian who uses humor as a defense mechanism while dealing with their own inner darkness.

  5. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, including war veterans. The symptoms can be debilitating, with flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. Write a tale about a war veteran returning home and their journey to find peace amidst the chaos of PTSD.

  6. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental illness where an individual obsesses over perceived flaws in their appearance, which might be minor or not noticeable to others. This can lead to severe emotional distress and might drive them to undergo multiple cosmetic procedures. Pen a story about someone with BDD, exploring their internal perceptions versus external reality.

  7. Dissociative disorders can cause memory loss, a sense of being detached from oneself, and even a feeling of living in a dream. These symptoms can be a result of traumatic experiences or other unknown factors. Craft a narrative about a character who experiences periods of dissociation and their journey to piece together their fragmented memories.

  8. Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia might experience hallucinations, delusions, and a range of other cognitive symptoms. Write a story from the perspective of someone with schizophrenia, detailing their interactions with their hallucinations and their quest for understanding.

  9. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings, from manic highs to depressive lows. These shifts can be rapid and intense, affecting every aspect of a person’s life. Narrate a week in the life of a character with bipolar disorder, capturing the rollercoaster of their emotions and the challenges they face in maintaining relationships and stability.

  10. Amnesia isn’t just a plot device in movies; it’s a real and often devastating condition. Whether due to trauma, illness, or unknown causes, losing memories can reshape a person’s identity. Write a story about someone who wakes up with no memory of their past and their journey to rediscover who they are.

  11. Anxiety disorders can make everyday situations feel insurmountable, like navigating a maze with no exit in sight. The physical and mental symptoms can be overwhelming, making even simple tasks daunting. Craft a narrative about a character’s experience attending a large social event while grappling with severe social anxiety.

  12. Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, are complex conditions often rooted in deep-seated issues of control, self-worth, and societal expectations. Write a story about a ballet dancer who, in the pursuit of perfection, battles with an eating disorder, highlighting the internal and external pressures they face.

  13. Delusional disorder is a condition where individuals firmly hold onto false beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary. These delusions can shape their entire worldview and influence their actions. Pen a tale about someone who believes they have a secret superpower and how this belief shapes their daily life.

  14. While grief is a natural response to loss, some individuals experience prolonged, intense mourning known as complicated grief or persistent complex bereavement disorder. This can interfere with their ability to function in daily life. Narrate a story about a character who, years after a loss, is still trapped in the depths of their grief and their journey towards healing.

  15. Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder where an individual consistently fails to speak in specific situations, despite being able to communicate in other settings. This can be particularly challenging for children in school environments. Write a story from the perspective of a child with selective mutism trying to navigate a new school year.

  16. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a pattern of unstable relationships, self-image, and emotions. People with BPD can experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that last a few hours to a few days. Craft a narrative about a character with BPD navigating a romantic relationship, showcasing the highs and lows of their emotional world.

  17. Cyclothymia, a milder form of bipolar disorder, involves mood swings that are not as severe but can still be disruptive. These mood changes can be unpredictable, making long-term planning and relationships challenging. Write a story about a musician with cyclothymia, illustrating how their mood fluctuations influence their creative process and personal connections.

  18. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder where individuals fear and avoid places or situations that might cause them to panic, feel trapped, or helpless. This can sometimes lead to them becoming housebound. Narrate the journey of someone with agoraphobia who sets a goal to step outside their home after years of isolation.

  19. Childhood traumatic grief occurs when a child experiences a traumatic death of a significant figure in their life and develops symptoms similar to PTSD. This can overshadow the typical grieving process. Craft a narrative about a child who witnessed the sudden loss of a parent and their path to healing amidst the trauma.

  20. Tinnitus isn’t a mental illness, but its persistent ringing or buzzing can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Write a story about a character who develops tinnitus after a concert and their struggle to find silence both externally and internally.

  21. Derealization and depersonalization disorders involve feeling that the world isn’t real or feeling detached from oneself. It’s like living in a dream or watching oneself in a movie. Pen a tale about a character who, after a car accident, starts experiencing episodes of derealization and their quest to reconnect with reality.

  22. Many people with high-functioning depression, or dysthymia, maintain a facade of calm and normalcy while battling persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Narrate a story about a beloved community leader who, behind closed doors, grapples with the weight of dysthymia.

  23. Intrusive thoughts are unwelcome involuntary thoughts, images, or unpleasant ideas that can become obsessions. While everyone might experience them occasionally, for some, they can become distressing and dominate their mind. Write a story about a new parent who is plagued by intrusive thoughts and their journey to seek help and understanding.

  24. Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of extreme social inhibition, inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative criticism or rejection. Craft a narrative about a talented artist with avoidant personality disorder who is offered a prestigious gallery showing, and their internal battle to face the world.

  25. Factitious disorder, previously known as Munchausen syndrome, involves individuals feigning illness or injury to draw attention or sympathy. This act can become so ingrained that they might undergo unnecessary medical procedures. Write a story about a character with factitious disorder navigating relationships and the medical world, revealing the reasons behind their actions.

  26. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can strike individuals in their 40s or 50s, leading to memory loss, confusion, and changes in personality. This can be a harrowing experience for both the individual and their loved ones. Narrate a tale of a young novelist diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, capturing their efforts to finish their magnum opus before their memories fade.

  27. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there’s little or nothing to provoke it. Craft a story about a teacher with GAD preparing for the first day of school, illustrating the internal storms they face amidst everyday scenarios.

  28. Self-harm is a coping mechanism for some individuals dealing with intense emotional pain or distress. It’s a misunderstood and often hidden struggle. Write a narrative about a teenager who uses self-harm as a way to cope, exploring their journey to find healthier outlets and the support they receive along the way.

  29. Dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder, involves the presence of two or more distinct identity states. These states can have their own patterns of perceiving and interacting with the environment. Pen a tale about a detective with DID, where one of their alternate identities becomes a key witness in a case they’re trying to solve.

  30. Chronic loneliness isn’t just a feeling; it can be a persistent state that affects mental and physical health. In an age of digital connectivity, many still feel profoundly isolated. Narrate a story about a character living in a bustling city, surrounded by millions, yet feeling deeply alone, and their journey to find genuine connection.
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