As Sir Al Aynsley-Green, Children’s Commissioner for England, says in his foreword, “I want to see … a society that recognises the importance and centrality of children’s mental health to all aspects of their current and future lives”.
The book is structured in five parts:
Part I: Mental health, policies and service structures;
Part II: Infant and maternal mental health;
Part III: Children’s mental health;
Part IV: Adolescent mental health;
Part V: Diagnoses and treatments.
The five parts comprise twenty essays, ten of which are in Parts IV and V. The twenty-five contributors include practitioners, academics and administrators and provide a very complete coverage of the field.
The first contribution, What is mental health? by Mike Shooter, sets the volume in context in his coverage of mental health, mental illness, nature and nurture and children’s rights. Roger Catchpole covers working together, a key requirement of Every Child Matters. Mary Bunting discusses the mental health needs of looked after children and suggests that interventions should be holistic, multi-agency and offer long-term work if they are to meet the needs of this vulnerable group. Richard Williams discusses the vital topic of resilience in young people and how this can be promoted. In a fascinating contribution, Kathryn Pugh raises the issue of transition from child to adult and the problems which accrue at that stage of development. Jo Tunnard looks at the mental health needs of the 3,000 children aged under eighteen who are held in prison or some other secure setting. He stresses the need for continuity and consistency of care, rare commodities in the British system. In Part V, Diagnoses and treatments, there are extremely useful contributions on depression and bipolar disorder, psychosis, ADHD, self-harming and eating disorders. This section provides essential reading for those involved in the field.
Although, in a short review, it is only possible to mention a limited number of contributions, every single one of the articles is well worth reading, a point which can rarely be made about any collection of essays. This book should be on the shelf of every serious practitioner. It is not only replete with current information but is also very well written.
For the next edition, it would be useful to include an inventory of the main organisations working in the field of child and adolescent mental health.
Jackson, C., Hill, K. and Lavis, P. (Eds.) (2008)
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Today : A Handbook
Pavilion Publishing, Brighton, pp.232