Description: This is a concise, very abbreviated book on the treatment of clients suffering from mental health disorders.
Purpose: According to the authors, the book provides "a concise, complete, easy to access clinical resource so the primary care provider can quickly access" information about assessing, diagnosing, and prescribing to clients exhibiting psychiatric symptoms. Short chapters written in an outline and bulleted format provide the information with little explanation.
Audience: The audience is clearly stated to be practitioners in primary care. It is not intended for psychiatric advance practice nurses or any other mental health professionals. One of the authors states she wrote the book after realizing that, as a nonpsychiatric nurse practitioner, she had very few resources to turn to when she encountered clients suffering from mental health disorders while working in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Features: The guide covers all of general psychiatry including assessment, diagnosis, and two forms of nonpharmacological therapeutic interventions in fewer than 25 pages. The 12 chapters on syndromes are basically a recapitulation of DSM-5 criteria along with some statistics about prevalence of the disorders. The bulk of the guide comprises 90 drug monographs of common psychiatric medications. Differential diagnoses and diagnostic workups are included in the chapters on the syndromes, a valuable feature for clinicians.
Assessment: This book raises a number of concerns. It is written for primary care providers who have no formal training in psychiatric assessment and diagnosis. It is also out of the scope of practice of a nurse practitioner who is not a psychiatric nurse practitioner to provide therapy. The drug monographs do not provide important information on when initial follow-up should be conducted after starting clients on these medications. It is well documented in the clinical literature that combination therapy (often medications and another psychotherapeutic modality) yields the best results. Nowhere in this guide does it encourage primary care providers to refer to a psychiatric specialist to manage patients with significant mental health disorders. Without this information, primary care providers may believe that this guide might be all they need to assess, diagnose, and treat these patients.