Community Care, 4 February 2010: Book review

A Straight Talking Introduction to Caring for Someone with Mental Health Problems

Edited by Jen Kilyon and Theresa Smith, PCCS Books ISBN 9781906254186

This is another in a series of small and accessible books that aim to provide concise and practical information and tell it as it is, writes Tina Coldham.

Chapters are written by different people who identify as carers, including a composite one by young carers. Each is a deeply personal narrative in which different issues are raised, including the feeling that they are sidelined by services, concern over the veil of confidentiality and the distress felt while watching their loved-one unravel in front of them.

The book should help carers who identify with the stories told or the issues highlighted, as well as mental health workers who will be introduced to an insight of what it is like to be a mental health carer.

There are also strong messages for organisations to consider. Thus each chapter tells its tale, and emergent themes are highlighted at the end of each. An entire chapter at the end of the book is devoted to pulling these out as areas for discussion and improvement.

Another chapter distils the key points and is accompanied by a well-researched resources chapter to inform and empower carers – information that staff should take note of too.

It’s an informative and useful read. A serious omission, highlighted by the editors, is a piece written by a carer from a an ethnic minority, probably only truly corrected by a book dedicated to such.

Tina Coldham is a national development consultant at the Health and Social Care Advisory Service

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