Reviews

The Experiences of Mental Health In-patient Care: narratives from service users, carers and professionals

While the title of this book adequately reflects the content, it falls short of capturing the novel approach the editors have taken to portraying mental health inpatient care. The book is well structured and consists of five discrete sections. The first and final sections are concerned with introductions and conclusions respectively. Section two focuses on service users’ experiences, section three on carers’ experiences and section four on the experiences of mental health staff.

The layout of the middle sections is particularly appealing insofar as individual narratives are followed by two or three thought-provoking commentaries. For example, the experiences of service users and carers are commented on by a wide range of knowledgeable and credible sources representing psychiatry, nursing, occupational therapy, social work and clinical psychology to name but a few. The process is then reversed with service users and carers commenting on the narratives of mental health workers. Some of the experiences described reflect positively on mental health service provision, but there is a strong degree of negativity associated with many. This is balanced by the positive stance taken by the authors in offering solutions to many of the complex problems identified.

The narratives themselves are raw and revealing and the personal experiences described are put in context in the following commentaries. This is a very effective strategy for more critical analysis of

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The layout of the middle sections is particularly appealing insofar as individual narratives are followed by two or three thought-provoking commentaries. For example, the experiences of service users and carers are commented on by a wide range of knowledgeable and credible sources representing psychiatry, nursing, occupational therapy, social work and clinical psychology to name but a few. The process is then reversed with service users and carers commenting on the narratives of mental health workers. Some of the experiences described reflect positively on mental health service provision, but there is a strong degree of negativity associated with many. This is balanced by the positive stance taken by the authors in offering solutions to many of the complex problems identified.

The narratives themselves are raw and revealing and the personal experiences described are put in context in the following commentaries. This is a very effective strategy for more critical analysis of the experience described. The book’s practical appeal is further enhanced by questions posed at the end of each section designed to stimulate individual thinking or group discussion.

While targeted at mental health staff, the book has a much broader appeal: many of the issues raised are not unique to mental health. Charlotte’s narrative, ‘No Sex Allowed’, captures vividly the way emotional and sexual needs of inpatients are so often overlooked and is equally applicable to other settings. Service users, carers, managers, educationalists and clinicians will all be challenged by this book and while some chapters may be more thought-provoking than others, it is unlikely to disappoint.

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