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ABC of mental health,
  1. TREVOR FRIEDMAN, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist
  1. Brandon Unit
  2. Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, UK

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    ABC of mental health, T Davies, T Craig, eds, 80 pp, illus. BMJ Publishing Group, London, 1998. £16.95, paperback

    This book first appeared as a weekly series in the BMJ and has been re-published as a short book of 20 chapters, covering topics related to mental health. The style of the book is one of brief notes with boxes and bullet points outlining those facts which are most important.

    The book is designed to be read not only by doctors but also by other professions involved in mental health, such as nursing, social work, the legal profession and the police. The style is non-specialist and, although the chapters are brief, they contain the key facts about each area.

    The book covers many areas of importance to doctors practising in the general hospital. The initial chapters concentrate on mental health assessment and on mental health emergencies as well as particular mental health problems presenting in general hospitals. There then follow a number of chapters reviewing the range of mental illness and presenting the essentials of aetiology, diagnosis and management. The final chapters relate to particular groups of patients, such as children, ethnic minorities and the homeless. There are also chapters on the law and drug and psychological treatments.

    This book is clearly aimed at the non-psychiatrist. It would be a particularly useful book to be available in casualty departments, and many general physicians and surgeons would find it helpful in refreshing their knowledge about particular conditions or management option. It provides an introduction to physicians on the management of common conditions they may encounter, such as depression and alcoholism. It also helps explain the principles of techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy. It is clearly written and attempts to provide practical advice and current mainstream opinion on topics covered. It uses non-technical language wherever possible and hopefully will lead to greater recognition and dialogue between physicians and psychiatrists. The management of difficult somatising patients or the intricacies of the mental health act are difficult to deal with in brief note form but there is in this book a framework that helps to clarify these difficult areas. I would recommend it as a useful addition to most departments and would strongly advise casualty departments to have a copy available.