At the Core of Mental Health

Edited by Di Bailey.

Pavilion Publishing

£43 (paperback) ISBN 1 84196 049 7

This book, subtitled “Key Issues for Practitioners, Managers and
Mental Health Trainers”, has the potential to become a standard
text. It is a well-edited collection of articles written by a
respected group of practitioners and academics.

Unlike some collections, the writers appear to have read each
others’ chapters and there are some good links between them.

In the main the book is written in an easy style, and the
potential links with training courses are helped by the layout and
comprehensive references.

Most of the work is based on writers’ involvement with the
University of Birmingham’s postgraduate mental health

The book does not claim to provide full legal coverage and
refers the reader to Jones’ Mental Health Act Manual. However, in
certain areas, such as work with children and people who misuse
substances, there is some useful coverage of law and policy which
are not central to Jones’ Manual. Unfortunately, the references in
the children’s chapter are not to the current code of practice but
to the version which was replaced in 1999.

The main emphasis of the book is on good mental health practice,
focused on the needs of service users and carers. One possible
weakness is an apparent absence of any formal contribution from
either of these groups, even though their influence on the book is

The first part of the book concentrates on signs and symptoms of
mental distress. This is followed by chapters on service provision
for specific groups. Part three considers practice techniques in
care planning, risk assessment and early intervention alternatives
to mainstream approaches. The final part contains chapters on
anti-discriminatory practice.

The few minor quibbles I have with the book are within the
context of a thoughtful, helpful book, which deserves to become a
standard point of reference.

Robert Brown is head of approved social work training
programmes in Hampshire, South London and South West England. He is
also a Mental Health Act commissioner.

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