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Book Review

Modern Community Mental Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Steven S. Sharfstein, MD

Published: October 28, 2014

Modern Community Mental Health:An Interdisciplinary Approach

edited by Kenneth R. Yeager, PhD, LISW; David L. Cutler, MD; Dale Svendsen, MD, MS; and Grayce M. Sills, PhD, RN. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2013, 621 pages, $89.99 (hardback).

Today, the popular byword in community mental health is integration. Bringing outpatient mental health services into the mainstream of primary care, bringing primary care services to the seriously and persistently mentally ill, putting together mental health and substance abuse treatments for individuals with co-occurring disorders, establishing psychiatrists as the "principal physician" for their patients (including basic primary care services), and treating individuals in comprehensive settings with easy access to specialty medical services in addition to their psychiatric care are all aspects of this integration moment and movement. Yet, as Modern Community Mental Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by Yeager and colleagues, demonstrates, there is substantial specialty expertise in the delivery of community mental health services to individuals with serious and persistent mental illness who, in an era not so long ago, would have been treated in the institution—the state or county mental hospital.

As the subtitle emphasizes, care in the community is an interdisciplinary enterprise, with psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, peer support specialists, and others working together to provide the opportunity for a sustaining recovery from the most debilitating aspects of serious mental illness such as schizophrenia. Perhaps more compelling than integrative care is the term collaborative care, wherein many disciplines come together and develop a truly comprehensive treatment plan. The editors of this volume are interdisciplinary, as are many of the authors, and it reads like a Who’s Who in community mental health.

The 37 chapters are divided into 4 sections. The first places current community mental health practice in a historical context with an evolution of principles of care. The second describes the preparation and training needed for public community mental health care. The third section, which is very much the meat of the book, is about best practices in community mental health, with each chapter addressing the current state of the science and art of evidence-based care. The fourth section is devoted to leadership and management and provides a wonderful overview for those who find themselves in leadership positions in community mental health.

This offering is mainly about the American experience with regard to the topic, but it also has an international flavor, with chapters contributed from a variety of countries and cultures. It is indeed a rich compendium of perspectives of community mental health in the 21st century. One can only imagine what the pioneers of community mental health would have thought some 50 years ago in anticipation of such progress.

This book is about the good news of deinstitutionalization. Too often we hear about the horror stories related to homelessness, incarceration, and violence in our community of individuals who are neglected in a very visible way. For the many who find an opportunity for life in the community with work, school, and family, this volume is a welcome contribution.

Steven S. Sharfstein, MD

Author affiliation: University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Potential conflicts of interest: None reported.

J Clin Psychiatry 2014;75(10):e1194 (doi:10.4088/JCP.14bk09250).

© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

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