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From The CriticsReviewer: Howard M. Kravitz, DO, MPH (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: Written from the perspective of the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) and dedicated to the memory of its editor, Dora Kohen, who died in 2009, this book reflects her public health and community approach "to understand stigma-related problems [i.e., mental disorders] in the context of women's mental health."
Purpose: Although a specific purpose is not articulated, the author of the Afterword writes that "this book...has attempted to encompass all these disciplines [i.e., from basic science to psychology, sociology, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, nursing, social work, nutrition, rehabilitation science, education, and the history of medicine] and to present the subject [i.e., women's mental health] from many points of view." It "firmly establishes" that women's mental health "is distinct in many ways from the mental health of men.
Audience: The target audience reflects the book's multidisciplinary approach. Consistent with its NHS perspective, most of its contributing authors are from the U.K. and Ireland, with a smattering from Sweden, Switzerland, India, Turkey, Canada, and two from the U.S. These authors may bring different local cultural perspectives, but the general issues can be broadly applied to nonrepresented countries.
Features: The 35 chapters are grouped into six main sections covering fundamental aspects, clinical aspects (including clinical aspects of mental illness, perinatal psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders), special clinical topics (PTSD, self-harm and suicide, and medically unexplained symptoms), parental psychiatric disorders, women and learning disabilities, and legislation and policy. Information is conveyed predominantly in prose, with tables or figures to summarize, highlight, or illustrate key points in less than half the chapters.
Assessment: In September 2010, the U.S. Office of Research on Women's Health celebrated its 20th anniversary. This book's timely publication brings to the forefront the challenges of addressing women's mental health problems and service needs. Improving women's mental health has far-reaching ramifications that require continued research, and in carrying on Professor Kohen's legacy, the book's authors expose these issues and identify important areas to pursue. Although reflecting mainly British context and views, the book is a worthy contribution to this field. Women's health service providers, regardless of their specialty and the sociocultural setting in which they practice, will gain an understanding of one of the leading issues in psychiatry today — it delivers the message that mental health issues must be considered an integral part of women's medical care.