mental health first aid

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Rebecca Brown

An introduction to the most common mental disorders.

First aid = emergency treatment for injury or sudden illness, before regular medical care is available.

First of all Dr. Rayel explains How To Use This Book & then follows with chapters on Why First Aid to Mental Illness?; The CARE Approach to First Aid; The HELP Method; The HEAL Technique; the ABCs of First Aid; Basic Coping Skills to Help Deal with Mental Illness part 1 & 2; Depression; Mania or Mood Swings; Panic Attacks; Phobia; Obsessions and Compulsions; Emotional Difficulties After a Trauma; Anxiety; Psychosis; Excessive Drug or Alcohol Use; Eating Disorder; Dementia or Memory Loss; Grief and Bereavement...until we get to the Commonly Asked Questions and Related Issues.

“Perceived by most people as a complex problem, mental illness requires a simplified and practical approach to dealing with its myriad problems. Many of my patients have lamented that, had they know what was going on with them emotionally, they could have done ‘something' about it during the early phase of the illness. Based on discussion with my patients & their caregivers, two issues have always caught my attention. First, they were unable to recognize the ongoing emotional difficulty. And secondly, they did not know the basic approach once they became aware of the change.” Pg xi

I suspect I should have had this volume sent to our Senior Associate Reviewer Dr. Bond, however, because of trouble in my family, I thought to review it myself.

Why do we treat mental illness differently from a physical illness or injury? Since the school shootings & our national emotional reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I have noticed more & more emphasis has been placed on our mental recovery from such external trauma.

It is the internal trauma, the onset of chemical imbalances within our brains, that still go, by & large, untended. First Aid to Mental Illness has enlightened me in a number of ways all those meetings with doctors could not, primarily because I can keep referring back to sections & connect some of the dots it didn't occur to me to tell the doctors.

Some of the Commonly Asked Questions (FAQs in another world) are: What are the indications for hospitalization? What is informed consent? What are the common reasons for failure of drug treatment? Does the patient have the right to refuse medication?

There is a long Appendix of Resources covering the world & the Internet.

First Aid to Mental Illness is exactly what it appears to be--a text book explaining symptoms, approaches, techniques & outcomes. It is a handbook to educate you about the questions you need to ask, a clarification of how mental disorders are characterized, what drugs are commonly used & why some of them don't work.

A valuable tool for everyone living & working with those of us stricken by mental illness, it is Dr. Michael G. Rayel's hope that his approach will empower patients, caregivers & loved-ones. It sure has helped me.

Dr. Michael G. Rayel is an clinician, an administrator & the author of several psychiatry books. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology & Certified in Clinical Psychopharmacology, trained in general psychiatry & psychodynamic psychotherapy at New York Medical College, geriatric psychiatry at New York University Medical Center & forensic & correctional psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He lives in Newfoundland, Canada. (03/09/03)


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