6 YA Books About Mental Health Every Teen Needs To Read

5 Oct 2017 by Germaine Cheah

More than sappy love stories or superficial plots, Young Adult novels have an uncanny ability to touch on difficult topics and relate to youths on a deeper level. For those who are battling with mental health or for the ones who have loved ones and close friends who are facing personal struggles, here are six young adult reads that will not only serve to help readers understand, but are also changing the conversation about mental health, one page at a time. 

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep By Neal Shusterman

Once a brilliant high school student, Caden is slowly losing his grip on reality – unable to focus on anything and believing that a kid at school wants to kill him. In his gradual descent into schizophrenia, Caden thinks he is on a ship bound for Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth. While receiving treatment at Seaview Memorial Hospital, he begins to come out from his illness. But tragedy strikes when his roommate attempts suicide, causing Caden to
reel mentally.

Why it’s important: An unflinchingly honest portrayal of those dealing with schizophrenia, Challenger Deep draws from Neal Shusterman’s experience with the illness through his son’s personal battle. Illustrations penned by his son are peppered throughout the book, allowing readers to gain a deeper understanding of schizophrenia.

My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga


16-year-old Aysel is obsessed with planning her own death. After all, she has nothing to live for: her father’s guilty of murder, her mother can’t even look at her without wincing, and she’s alienated by her schoolmates because of her dad. Unsure if she can go through with suicide alone, she turns to Suicide Partners where she meets Roman, a teenage boy haunted by his own family tragedy. As they begin to fill each other’s broken lives, Aysel starts to reconsider their suicide pact – but can she save Roman when he’s so determined to die?

Why it’s important: The very definition of never judging a book by its cover, this novel demonstrates how someone could still be depressed despite a smiling facade. And perhaps the most important message Jasmine Warga strives to drive home? That there’s always a way to escape the arduous tunnel of sadness.

Bad Romance By Heather Demetrios

Bad Romance By Heather Demetrios

With an abusive stepfather and an obsessive-compulsive mother, Grace wants nothing more than to get out of her house. When she falls in love with the charismatic Gavin, she believes she has found a new home with him. That is until he turns controlling and possessive, demanding that she give up her friends and threatening suicide if they ever break up. Caught between a rock and a very hard place, Grace will have to figure out a way to escape a ‘prison’ she never thought she’d get stuck in.

Why it’s important: It’s easy to judge someone for staying in an abusive relationship, but as this book deftly illustrates, red flags are never easy to notice when they’re wrapped under the guise of toxic manipulation.

The Thing With Feathers By McCall Hoyle


Having suffered from epilepsy her entire life, Emilie prefers being alone – she’s home-schooled, spends her spare time reading and her therapy dog is her best friend. Forced by her mum to attend classes at the local high school, she gradually starts to get out of her comfort zone and learns to make friends. But Emilie has a problem: she hasn’t told anyone in school about
her epilepsy.

Why it’s important: Although primarily dealing with the effects of epilepsy, this coming-of-age tale also delves into how physical health issues can affect your mental state. At the end of it all, it shows readers that having an ‘invisible’ disability shouldn’t hinder them from doing what they want to.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies By Louise Gornall


Struggling with agoraphobia – a anxiety disorder that causes her to shun the outside world – Norah hasn’t stepped out of her house since experiencing a severe anxiety attack in school four years ago. She gets by just fine within the safe confines of her home, but her solitude is upended when she notices the new boy-next-door, Luke. Instead of defining Norah by her medical condition, he sees her as brave, smart and funny. But as they grow closer, Norah realises Luke deserves someone better – and it shouldn’t be her.

Why it’s important: For someone dealing with mental health issues, even the seemingly easiest of tasks can seem like a mountain for them to conquer. Written in a refreshing first-person narrative, Louise Gornall paints a realistic image of a teenager struggling to face her own demons.

Girl In Pieces By Kathleen Glasgow


Charlotte may only be 17, but she’s gone through more than what most people have in their lifetime – her father drowned himself, her abusive mother kicked her out of her home and her best friend’s lying in hospital brain-dead. She then finds an unhealthy way to deal: she cuts, with each new scar washing away the pain until she feels nothing. Despite spending time in treatment, she soon finds herself spiraling down the rabbit hole once again.

Why it’s important: With self-harm one of mental health’s prevalent issues, this evocative story serves as a wake-up call for today’s generation. It details how young lives can become so derailed that they turn to “writing their pain on their bodies”, and the effort needed for those suffering to pick themselves back up.

Featured image: Anthony Tran on Unsplash

This article was adapted from the October 2017 issue of Teenage

We’re always on the lookout for good reads, so share your favourite books with us in the comment section! 

More related stories: Students Share Their Tried-And-Tested Study Hacks!17 Places In Singapore You Can Study At Without Being Chased Away9 Books Every Millennial Should Read

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8 Ways You're Wasting Time Without Realising It

2 Oct 2017 by Lynette Goh

Too much on your plate with not enough time to do ’em all? We get it. And if seeking out methods to increase your productivity and efficiency yields no results, how about looking at the ways you’re spending your time (or wasting it)? Here are a few ways you could be doing so. 

#1 Watching TV

Couch potatoes, here’s reality coming in like a wrecking ball. Binge-watching watching TV dramas (Netflix included) is truly a luxury when pressed for time. At the very least, you’d be spending over seven hours a week (if you stick strictly to a one hour episode each day) – time you could spend working on something else. 

#2 Indulging In Social media

Chatting with your friends every five to 10 minutes when you’re supposed to be doing revision, stalking people on Instagram instead of paying attention in class, Snapchatting your every move when you’re supposed to be rushing a project… You aren’t the first to get sucked into the endless vortex that is social media, and you won’t be the last. If you find yourself spending copious amounts of time on social media and leaving none for serious work, it’s high time to put away your gadgets and focus. 

#3 Complaining To Your Friends

Talking about your overloaded situation serves as a good outlet for pent up frustrations and it’s a process that shouldn’t be skipped. But to be honest, if all you’re doing is complaining to your friends (and not actually working on what you can), it doesn’t actually solve anything nor reduce your pile of work. The next time a rant session is in order, try allocating a timeframe to talk about it to your heart’s content. – when time is up, back to work you go! Also, remember to give yourself mini breaks in-between so as not to get overwhelmed. 

#4 Not asking questions

Sounding out your questions during class may be daunting for some, but it’s important to get any queries out of the way. For example, whether it’s clearing doubts about project guidelines or gaining a clear understanding of the syllabus taught in class, you won’t have to waste time trying to figure ’em out later on your own, especially when you’re pressed for time. 

#5 Poor organization

Everyone gets messy from time to time but if you find yourself frequently searching for your notes, stationary, homework, etc., you have to change this time-wasting situation around ASAP. Poor organisation means you’re spending precious time foraging for the basics you need, leaving lesser time to get proper work done. Clean up your desk, implement a proper organisation/filing system and you’ll be way more productive in the long run. 

#6 Not getting enough sleep

The lack of sleep is one of the top causes for low productivity levels. Plan your day well and schedule for most of the work to be done before sunset. Burning the midnight oil or pulling all-nighters won’t do you any good in the morning. Furthermore, you will burn out easily and your productivity levels will hit a plateau. Instead, stretch the hours you have in the day to complete your work, and leave the night for your rest.

#7 Over-thinking Everything

Nobody likes making mistakes, but don’t let your fear stop you from being productive. For example, you could be worrying about perfecting your project, but not starting quickly (and not meeting submission deadlines as a result) will end up negatively affecting your results anyway; worrying, over-thinking and pointlessly mulling over things you have zero control over is a waste of time – quell your fears and just start doing. 

#8 Taking on too much

If you find yourself biting off more than you can chew, it may be time to take a step back. List what you have on your hands currently and learn to say no. It is never wrong to reject certain meet-ups if you are tight on time, nor do you really need to volunteer to be on every project – scrambling to keep up impedes your progress and eventually dilutes the quality of your work. Learn to discern what is really worth your time and you’ll be better for it. 

Featured image: Drew Coffman on Unsplash

Let us know in the comment section if we missed out anything that you think is a waste of time!

More related stories: 7 Tips For Quality Rest Every Sleep-deprived Student Needs To Know, Increase Your Study Productivity With These Effective Tips, Students Share Their Tried-and-tested Study Hacks

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We are here with a list of life-changing study apps that are not only student-friendly, but will help you increase your productivity by tenfold.

Khan Academy 

Credit: Myscript

Free, available on Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play Store

Fell asleep in class, or in need of an intensive revision session? Khan Academy is your answer. It is filled with in-app videos, assignments and articles to help you catch up with any topic you missed out on. The explanations are concise and they have helped many students tide over difficult, hair-tugging moments with the exercises that come after the lessons. They offer a wide range of subjects and the topics, so you have no reason to procrastinate the next time you have to work on your least favourite subject. Moreover, you can download the videos beforehand to waste less buffer time and leave more time to be productive.


Credit: Freedom

Available at $2.42/month (yearly subscription) on Apple iTunes App Store, Windows 8-10 

Hit by the sudden realisation that when you are trying to study, your phone is the greatest evil of them all? Freedom helps you do more than putting your phone on Do-not-disturb mode. The app blocks content for both websites and apps or the entire Internet (if you want to), helping you stay focused on task and avoid being a victim of (notification) distractions we are all guilty of.


Free, available on: Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play Store

Forget having to furiously google words you don’t quite understand – apart from 375,000 words and definitions and 300,000 synonyms and antonyms, this handy app also has a voice search function. Additional features include Word of the Day, example sentences and many interesting articles about the English Language in-app.



Free, available on Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play Store

Need an organisational app that offers flexible customisation of your daily to-dos? Wunderlist will do it for you. Not only are you able to easily add tasks and set deadlines to existing lists, you’ll also be able to set reminders to nudge you into getting your tasks done throughout the week. The best part? You can add files, sub-tasks and share your study plans with study buddies to achieve optimum productivity. Nothing beats the satisfaction from ticking the tasks off the list together. 


Credit: Studybay

Free, available on Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play Store

A bibliography generator, targeted for y’all out there who constantly fret over the long list of bibliography you have to churn out for project work – Easybib generates citations in MLA, APA, Chicago and a ton of different styles, where you can definitely find one that suits your needs. Simply paste in your website link, or fill in the necessary details from your reference books and you can get your citations in seconds.

Easy Study

Credit: Buzzfeed

Free, available on Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play Store

In three easy steps – enter the subjects you will study, how many subjects you want to study each day of the week, then confirm if the plan works for you – and you have a study guide that will help you manage your ever-piling workload. There are notifications about subjects you have to study and a summary of your day, providing information of your progress.


Credit: Ginger Labs

Available at $14.98 on Apple iTunes App Store

If physically penning down your notes or tapping out quick comments on your smart device doesn’t cut it for you, check out Notability. This all-in-one app allows for extremely effective levels of note-taking, from allowing users to type, handwrite, sketch and even audio-record their notes – upon which you can choose to attach your ‘note’ to any section of the document. Plus, you’ll also be able to add photos, files and screenshots to form thoroughly comprehensive notes that’ll have you more than prepared for any exam. 

Google Drive

Credit: iMore

Free, available on Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play Store

If Notability is too costly, Google Drive is a useful alternative that allows you to create and share documents with your study buddies and work on them simultaneously, which’ll make collaborating on project work a breeze. You can draw diagrams, create spreadsheets, and build presentations all in one cloud, throwing away the hassle of organising individual notes and documents. 

Know of any more study apps that we left out? Leave it in the comment section!

More related stories: 7 Tips For Quality Rest Every Sleep-deprived Student Needs To Know, 17 Places In Singapore You Can Study At Without Being Chased Away, Increase Your Study Productivity With These Effective Tips

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Do you consider a career as a barber an ‘old-timey’ occupation? Don’t tell that to Faiz Ismail though, who is looking to spin the stereotype on its head. Here’s how this millennial entrepreneur plans to take over the grooming world in Singapore. 

After being inspired by the rockabilly movement – and the pompadour and slicked-back greaser hairstyles that came with it – back in October 2013, Faiz Ismail soon realised that while ‘quick fix’ salons are aplenty, there weren’t as many proper gentlemen barbershops in Singapore, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Faiz’s solo pursuits didn’t come without its doubters though, especially so when a supposed mentor commented “what makes you think you can fly solo?” after the former voiced out his ambitions of starting his own barbershop. But it was never in Faiz’s nature to quit – four years since his foray into the industry, the 25-year-old is now the founder of a successful grooming business backed up by his all-men team of professionally-trained barbers. And he’s only getting started. 

Photo: Faiz Ismail 

Was barbering something you wanted to do since young?

Actually, no. I was studying Chemical Engineering back in Singapore Polytechnic, but it was during that time that I fell in love with everything rock & roll. I loved wearing leather jackets and began sporting a shorter hairstyle too. I’ve always been fascinated with Alex Turner, the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys, and it was during my tertiary days when he changed his look from long to short hair – aka the ‘rockabilly’ moment – so that was when I started to mould my own look after him. He’s a big inspiration.

How did your family react upon hearing your decision to pursue barbering as a full-time career?

My mum was very supportive and was always there for me, but my dad hated my decision from the very beginning. My business venture was self-financed right from the start, and all I wanted was love and support, especially from my dad, but our differences built up so much over the years that we didn’t talk all that much. It was two years ago that he gave me his blessings after a heart-to-heart talk. He’s now proud to say that his son is a barber, and I’m really happy to be able to provide for my family.

Talk us through your barber certification process in Rotterdam.

It was at The Old School Barber Academy where I trained with the master barbers of Schorem, who are still a big hit in the industry today. My partner and I were the first Asians to enroll into the course and we went there with the intention to learn from barbers who have decades of experience. It was during this time that I learnt how to properly manage the guys working for me and also how to be a proper boss.


A post shared by DeepCuts Barber’s (@deepcutssg) on

Before opening your barbershop, you started cutting hair under a HDB block. What was the experience like?

It was actually outside of my ex girlfriend’s place – her flat was on the ground floor – where I set up my makeshift store. I was still in National Service at that time so I only charged $10 for a cut, but it was really a story of humble beginnings. Along with me, I had a crew of three other guys and everything was from scratch, from our standard of haircuts to our booking system – we actually had 10 to 15 exercise books where we wrote down our clients’ appointment details etc. It was a crazy experience, but I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything else in this world.

Any patrons from your old store who are still coming to you for haircuts today?

Yes! We have around 20 to 30 customers who are still patronising us. And whenever they come, we always talk about the good ol’ times. It’s actually a good thing for me as it helps to keep me grounded and reminds me to not lose sight of what’s important.

Did you ever consider joining another already-established barbershop or did you always have plans to start your own?

I’ve always had plans to start my own barbershop, because sometimes I feel like other people don’t have the same aggression for perfection and progression as I do. I’m a strong believer that everyone has to be aggressive in whatever they do because if you’re aggressive, you will never lose.


A post shared by DeepCuts Barber’s (@deepcutssg) on

What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started your business?

For me, it was more of an emotional struggle as I was only 21 years old when I started the business and I didn’t know how to manage people who were around my age. I was never a team player, so I always thought that I could do everything myself. But when I realised that I couldn’t do it on my own, I had to be more of a leader. Not to mention that everyone on my team came from different backgrounds and has varying levels of understanding when it comes to running a business, so it was a challenge getting everyone on the same page at first.

Negative comments are inevitable when running a business. How does the team deal with it?

Some of them will get really affected, but I never penalise them. In fact, I always blame myself first as I feel like I wasn’t a better teacher. We do have a lot of ARs (after review) where we discuss ways to learn from our mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s just work – some days are bad, some days are good. I always tell them that you just have to learn from it and move on towards becoming a better barber and a better person.


A post shared by DeepCuts Barber’s (@deepcutssg) on

Moving on, what’s next for you and the company?

My plan is to open a barber academy to help regulate the barber standards in Singapore. However, I’m still relatively new to the industry so I feel that I need at least a couple more years before I’m qualified enough to teach others.

What advice would you like to give those who are looking to start their own business?

Don’t give up, be patient and always be aggressive. Understand your market, your people, and your motives. Most importantly, have a strong belief in whatever you’re doing.

This article was adapted from the September 2017 issue of Teenage. 

DeepCuts Barber’s is located at 61 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore 169368. Visit to book your appointment today. PS: Do you know someone who has an inspiring story to share? Tell us in the comment section below, or drop us an email at [email protected]!

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Between exam crunch time, assignment deadlines and juggling everything else in between, most would inevitably choose to sacrifice their sleep – where else would you have the time to do everything else, right? While we don’t advocate giving up a good night’s rest (try to get in at least eight hours of snooze time every night!), we’ve found some ways to improve the quality of your sleep so you can wake up feeling as refreshed as possible. 

Cut back on screen time and other distractions

There are many studies talking about how the light from electronic devices can affect your sleep (more on that later), but making sure your bedroom is free of distractions is the first step to ensuring good quality of sleep. Using your phone as an alarm clock? Place it far away from your bed to avoid getting sucked in to the endless scrolling that is Instagram/social media. Similarly, shut off your laptop/tablet to reduce the temptation of binge-watching your favourite dramas – basically, make sure there’s nothing for you to do in bed other than sleep.

Filter your lights

Having trouble hitting the sack? Try reducing the amounts of blue light you expose yourself to in the late afternoon and evenings. Present in natural sunlight and emitted in large amounts from electronic devices, the bright lights from your various gadgets might be affecting your circadian rhythm (the body’s natural clock that tells your brain when it’s time to sleep) and tricking your mind into thinking that it’s still daytime. If it’s unrealistic to stop using your gadgets an hour or two before your bedtime, toggling into Night mode on your phones or dimming down your screens should help your brain adjust to your bedtime. 

Control your food/drink intake

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or heading to the kitchen for a midnight snack, avoid heading to bed on a full stomach or going to bed hungry to reduce the risk of sabotaging your own sleep with these avoidable bodily urges. This means controlling the snacks you eat during those intense mugging sessions too!

Build a good snooze environment 

Studies show that humans spend close to 1/3 of their lives in bed, which only goes to show how important a comfortable sleeping environment is. Apart from making sure your bed is 100% comfortable, use heavy curtains to block external lights from filtering in, and keep the room temperature to one you’re comfortable with to ensure you don’t wake up mid-sleep ’cause it’s too warm/cold. If you share a room with a sibling/family member with different sleeping habits, communicate with them and find a compromise that’ll aid both of you in getting restful sleep. 

Exercise regularly

Studies have shown that people with regular exercise tend to rest better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. If you’re too busy to commit to a full workout regime, try engaging in a 10-minute brisk walk to improve your sleep quality. With that being said, avoid rigorous exercise when it’s close to your bedtime as working out will speed up your metabolism and increase body temperature, which can interfere with your sleep. In contrast, light yoga or stretching exercises can serve to promote better sleep. 

Reduce night time anxiety

The stress we feel on a day to day basis can make restful sleep difficult. Before heading to bed, it’s important to unwind and clear your mind – take a relaxing bath, soothe your overstimulated mind by reading a book, practice deep breathing, or even jot down your feelings (and what’s causing you that anxiety). Being in a relaxed state will help your mind prepare your body for a good rest ahead.  

Eliminate jarring alarms

If you’re a serial snooze-button hitter, you’d be familiar with the grumpiness and lethargy that usually accompanies your mornings. This lack of energy (despite perhaps having had a full night of sleep) could be due to the fact that heading back to sleep after being jolted awake once, actually resets your sleep cycle – you’d most likely to be in a deeper, earlier phase of your sleep cycle the second time your alarm ring. Alternatively, having an alarm ring at the wrong time of your sleep cycle can also trigger similar effects. To counter this effect, try downloading sleep apps like Sleep Cycle, that analyse your sleep and wakes you up in the lightest sleep phase for an optimum and more refreshed start to the day! 

What are some of your tips to getting good sleep? Share ’em with us in the comment section!

More related stories: 17 Places In Singapore You Can Study At Without Being Chased Away5 Pro Tips To Help You Fight Procrastination8 Easy Psychology Hacks To Get Ahead In Life

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