Kinsella and Kinsella have compiled this book as a guide to mental health, with the intention that it be used as a valuable reference point by practitioners in a range of services, including social workers, occupational therapists, mental health nurses and others in caring professions. The authors acknowledge in their introduction that there are a vast number of professionals in other fields who play an ‘ever-growing role in mental health care’ (p. 12) such as police officers, emergency departments, housing officers and general medical ward nurses. Often, within a UK context, these professionals do not receive specific training on how to work with some of the most unwell and vulnerable people, yet do so regularly. In order to support those professionals, the text provides advice and techniques that can be used to manage challenging behaviours and difficult scenarios that professionals may encounter. This book was not intended with students as its primary audience, yet I have genuine enthusiasm in recommending this guide to students aspiring to work in mental health. As a social work student, I found this guide accessible due to its lack of complex jargon and confusing terminologies. By limiting these and providing clear explanations of difficult concepts, the authors have ensured that learners of different stages and abilities will be able to comprehend and appreciate the exceedingly useful information this text has to offer. For example, the authors have clearly explained, through the use of tables, several sections of the Mental Health Act, which could otherwise be daunting to those unfamiliar with the legislation. When the first edition was first published nine years ago, it was with the aim of providing relevant information to practitioners working with ‘vulnerable and mentally disordered people’ (Kinsella and Kinsella, 2006, p. 13). This second edition has successfully built on its predecessor by fully revising the information to ensure its relevance for the current-day professional. The guide features current-day medications, disorders/conditions, talking treatments, legislation and policy, case studies, key words, roles of professionals, risk management, good practice as well as updated references to ‘cutting edge science that has enhanced our understanding of mental health’, which Kinsella and Kinsella explain ‘was not available nine years ago’ (p. 11). This guide may be more suitable for readers with an interest in studying and/or practising in Britain. Several references are made to UK legislations, the British Criminal Justice System, policies and assessments. That said, the guide details practice techniques and advice for professionals that could be adopted universally. To enhance the reader experience, the book features several scenarios or ‘case studies’, which describe service users with mental health issues confronting problematic circumstances such as police arrests, homelessness and hospital admissions. At the end of each study, the authors offer reflective questions for the readers’ consideration. I feel that these reflective questions will accelerate readers learning through their active engagement, subsequently prompting forward thinking, professional development and problem solving. I was perplexed, however, that, within the case studies, biographical information, such as service users’ ethnicities, disabilities, class, religious beliefs and sexual orientation, have been omitted from most of the studies. These characteristics are imperative for professionals to consider when supporting service users with their immediate, social and clinical needs. Moreover, with personal characteristics being absent from the studies, it may not be immediately obvious to the reader to reflect on how the client identifies themselves and how this may affect their well-being, therefore detracting somewhat from the usefulness of the studies. In addition, I felt that the service users central to the studies were given names that could cause readers to assume they are of a ‘white British’ ethnicity. Forenames include ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Miranda’, ‘Jenny’, ‘Peter’, ‘John’ and ‘Richard’, indicating that the studies perhaps lack ethnic diversity. If names of different origins were used, this could prompt readers to ensure they consider black minority ethnic service users, their needs and experiences in the system. This is something that could be addressed in later editions. Notwithstanding, I felt this book went from strength to strength. As well as offering case studies and reflective questions, the message of the book is enhanced through the use of tables, info-boxes (bite-sized chunks of information for the reader to digest), clear sub-headings (for manageable reading) and references to key texts—all of which create a user-friendly guide. After thorough consideration, I conclude this text to be a well-balanced representation of both the medical and the social model of disability. Not only does the book provide essential information that practitioners need to be aware of, such as symptoms, medication and therapies to support recovery, but goes on to highlight the responsibilities professionals have to offer good practice in order to support individuals on a person-centred level. I consider Introducing Mental Health: A Practical Guide an invaluable resource for both practitioners and students alike, which certainly provides value for money. Kinsella and Kinsella’s previous works on the subject and their combined experience in the field of mental health have resulted in a clearly thought-out and well-written text, which will not leave readers disappointed. Reference Kinsella C., Kinsella C. ( 2006) Introducing Mental Health: A Practical Guide , 1st edn, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.
The British Journal of Social Work – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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