Preventing Mental Ill-Health
Informing public health planning and mental health practice
Routledge – 2013 – 280 pages
Routledge – 2013 – 280 pages
Is there any evidence that we can reduce the incidence of mental ill health? Is it possible to prevent recurrence of mental ill health?
Aspirations to achieve both these goals have featured in mental health policy and practice for over 100 years. This comprehensive and accessible book draws on research on the development and persistence of behavioural problems in childhood, adult depression and schizophrenia. The association between social disadvantage and mental ill health, as well as the need for preventive care to start from conception and the crucial importance of maternal mental health, are discussed.
A variety of prominent programmes which have good evidence of efficacy are described. These include:
However, some attempts to achieve preventive benefits have not succeeded, and reflecting on these problems is an important feature of this review.
Jennifer Newton has written extensively on these issues for over twenty years, and her careful examination of the research literature provides a succinct overview of the state of current knowledge which will benefit mental health professionals, and students of health psychology and public health. It also takes a life course perspective, and considers how, when and why vulnerability persists through childhood into adult life, so will interest those whose work focuses on child well-being.
"We have made huge progress in recent years in raising the profile of public mental health and improving population well-being. However, the need to prevent mental illness has sometimes been overlooked. This excellent and clearly argued book corrects the balance by placing prevention its rightful place as a key part of the mental health agenda." - Dr Andrew McCulloch, CEO, The Mental Health Foundation
"Mental ill-health is the global epidemic of our modern age and prevention and early intervention are key areas in public mental health. This book provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the literature in this area which offers us the prospect that the prevention of mental ill health is a reality for the twenty-first century." - Dr Jed Boardman, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychiatry
"In the 1980s Jennifer Newton produced a book entitled "Preventing Mental Illness". This book made me ask her collaboration in the WPA section of Preventive Psychiatry that I had the opportunity to establish at that time. The book impressed me very much.
Why was I impressed? For three basic reasons. First the book was a good paradigm of scientific discipline. Every information was cross-checked; when there was doubt, Newton would say so. Second, the book was balanced with respect to its theoretical orientation. Although one would expect it to be psychologically oriented in view of the psychological background of the author this was fortunately not the case and Newton invariably provided us with a global account of the existing evidence. Third, the book was instructive and well-written.
The above qualities were verified in her present book "Preventing Mental Ill-health" but a fourth important quality was added: Maturity. This is evident in the book. Her familiarity with the topic and her expertise allow Dr Newton to dare express her opinion with greater confidence and greater firmness than before and this is fortunate for the reader, for the advancement of preventive mental health and for the scientifically appropriate approach to the variety of issues associated with psychiatric prevention in general.
In her Preface to the book, the author warns that " a review of a large number of weak studies that point in the same direction does not add up to a strong conclusion". This cautious statement is of course correct and is indicative of the respect with which the author confronts the difficult and complex issues in the area of prevention. It is clear that her own review does not fall in the same trap.
In conclusion, the book is an invaluable tool in the hands of mental health professionals interested in prevention. Additionally, researchers will find new ideas by just reading the critical arguments of Jennifer Newton in her stimulating book.
I feel confident that "Preventing Mental Ill-health" will serve its purpose and will be received with enthusiasm. The author is to be thanked for enriching the Behavioral Medicine literature with yet another important addition." - Professor George N. Christodoulou, President-elect, World Federation for Mental Health
Introduction. Labels: And Why They Matter. Prevalence and Distribution of Mental Ill-Health. Preventing Ill-Health or Promoting Wellbeing? Depression. Psychosis. Events, Coping and Support. Mind and Body. Childhood: Secure Foundations. Strengthening Support for Children: Effective Interventions. Society, Status and Participation. Ready to Change.
Jennifer Newton coordinates post-graduate programmes in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at London Metropolitan University, and also teaches and undertakes research in mental health, social work and management. Previous research posts led to books including Preventing Mental Illness.