Carl Jung’s (1947) ‘collective unconscious’ and Joseph Campbell’s (1963) ‘mythographic discoveries’ examined the role of myth in our everyday lives. Additionally, Dr. Viktor Frankl (1984) identified that the ability to make meaning out of suffering can assist a person, including young adults, with mental health concerns. In this discussion paper it is argued that myth-based fantasy stories that describe the legendary ‘hero’s quest’ can play an important role in helping a young person to comprehend mental health suffering. Through the literary trope of Young Adult (YA) fantasy fiction, mythical fantasy stories can aid in understanding during a process of inner reflection and cognitive reframing. As part of an emerging methodology entitled Story Image Therapy (SIT)®, narratives such as the katabatic tale of the hero’s sojourn journey (to the ‘underworld’ and return) provide a viable method for a young person to make meaning out of mental health distress. The proposed method can also be used to deliver mental health information and strategies in a way that is fun, ever-expanding and open to individual, cultural and other interpretations. Evidence to support the YA fiction method includes archetypal literary criticism and bibliotherapy models, as well as the youth’s ‘literary voices’ revealed through the popular mythical YA fantasy fictions: Tolkien’s (1954-1955) The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lewis’ (1950-1956) Narnia Chronicles, Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1997-2007) and Pullman’s (1995-2000) His Dark Materials trilogy.
Keywords: Youth Mental Health, Young Adult Fiction, Mythology, Bibliotherapy, Archetypal Literary Criticism, Positive Psychology