Neil Thompson examines working with older people with mental health problems and Joe Mils offers views on a resource for overcoming anxiety.

Focus on Mental Health and Older People

Marilyn Harvey

Pavilion Publishing,
The Ironworks,
Brighton BN1 4ZZ


Described as a resource bank, this training pack focuses on
mental health and old age.

The materials are divided into six sections. The first is the
introduction while the second provides background information on
older people and mental health. The third section comprises 10
activities designed to explore various relevant themes, such as
loss and grief, depression and challenging behaviour. The fourth
and fifth sections consist of overhead projector templates and
handouts, which can be photocopied. The final section contains
useful addresses and a certificate that can be photocopied and
given to course participants.

This pack is user-friendly, being clearly laid out and
structured in a helpful way. In terms of content, it provides a lot
of useful material for providing training for staff working in
residential and nursing homes for older people and staff in day
care and domiciliary services.

The major drawback, to my mind, is that the materials presented
are quite traditional in their approach, reflecting more of a
medicalised approach to care than one based on empowerment and more
critical forms of practice. I would therefore suggest that trainers
and managers using these materials should consider adding an extra
dimension by considering such factors as ageism, alternatives to
the medical model of mental health and so on.

In sum, then, I feel this pack is good as far as it goes but
there are important dimensions of good practice that receive little
or no attention here.

Neil Thompson is a director of Avenue Consulting and
visiting professor at the University of Liverpool.


Anxiety Management: Ten Groupwork Sessions

Robin Dynes

Speechmark Publishing,
Telford Road,
Oxfordshire OX26 4LQ

£29.95 plus p&p

This publication is an expertly designed resource for group work
with people who have problems coping with interpersonal anxiety.
The underlying principle to this approach is that people may be
helped to accomplish personal change through education within a
context that provides close emotional support.

There is a review of considerations essential to assure useful
outcomes in facilitated group-work. Clear direction and advice
about how to select group members and how to help people work
together are also offered for consideration. Common concerns
associated with the need to raise and sustain the energy,
commitment and personal confidence of group members are

The protocol for 10 clearly structured group sessions is
outlined. Each session has specific aims and is focused on a key
developmental outcome designed to enhance the sense of achievement
of participants. A range of guides to group exercises designed to
promote understanding, self-awareness and interactive confidence is
provided. The emphasis throughout, on helping individuals evaluate
their experience of anxiousness in a group, is optimistic.

The schedule is designed for graduated progress, and the need
for the facilitator to monitor the progress of individuals. Early
sessions are designed to enhance awareness and understanding by
targeting specific and immediate concerns associated with the
cognitive, physical and emotional impact of anxiety. Later sessions
are designed to raise self-esteem and personal confidence. Group
participants are encouraged to set realistic personal goals and to
practice newly acquired skills in order to develop confidence in
their strategies to cope with situations that commonly provoke
anxiety and panic.

Health and social care professionals who are new to group work
will greatly appreciate this format, while experienced facilitators
may welcome this useful addition to their resource kit. The
theoretical basis of this approach is cogntive behaviour therapy,
and a range of useful references is provided.

Joe Mills is a senior lecturer in the school of human
and health sciences, University of Huddersfield.

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