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From The CriticsReviewer: Patricia E. Murphy, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This edited book provides research-based information about the impact on families of caring for a member with chronic mental illness. Eight chapters address specific disorders and report on outcomes of interventions focused on family support and psycho-education. Four other chapters address research on broader topics such as the role of family organizations in mental health care.
Purpose: The editors hope to sensitize readers to issues for families involved in caring for a relative with chronic mental illness. Past research has often focused on the impact of family members on the patient. This book hopes to further the work underway in many countries to provide families with skills both for their own self-care and for better management of the patient.
Audience: The book is addressed to psychiatrist and other mental health workers who deal with persons with chronic mental illness. It is well organized and suited to the busy professional.
Features: The book frames its content in the context of a developing sensitivity to the role of the family of the person with mental illness. Whereas past theory often blamed the family for the ill person's symptoms, a better understanding of the psychobiology of various disorders now points to the high personal cost to family members who live with or support their relative. There is evidence that some interventions prevent, or at least mitigate, the development of health problems in these family members and also contribute to decreased hospitalization for the patient. Both are important topics with financial implications.
Assessment: Research used in this book is quite current and well chosen. The richness of this book lies in its use of studies from many countries, including two family-centered cultures, India and China. There is much we can learn form each other in terms of cost-effective, compassionate care for the seriously mentally ill.