East Asian Arch Psychiatry 2013;23:29


Where There is no Child Psychiatrist: A Mental Health Care Manual

Authors: Valsamma Eapen, Philip Graham, Shoba Srinath
RCPsych Publications
USD 20.00; pp208; ISBN 978-1901242751

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Mental health problems are common in the child and adolescent age-group. This book provides an overview of different developmental, behavioural and emotional problems that may arise in this age-group, and their management. The language is easily understood; therefore it is suitable for those without specialist psychiatric training, including general practitioners, parents, and teachers. The book aims to improve the knowledge of child and adolescent developmental disorders and mental health problems among people who work with this age-group, so that their symptoms can be detected and managed earlier.

The book covers common conditions, such as developmental delay disorders, intellectual disabilities, habit disorders, emotional problems, behavioural problems, psychotic disorders, and problems of alcohol or drug use. For each condition, it first starts with a case study and then describes how to obtain more information about the problem. It provides advice on what can be done to help the child / adolescent and the family, including techniques for managing the child / adolescent and treatment options. Moreover, the book discusses chronic physical illnesses which may be linked to cognitive and mental health problems, for example, physical disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, diabetes mellitus, and HIV infection. It continues with the discussion of physical complaints without an identifiable physical explanation, including headaches, stomach aches, fatigue and weakness. Next, it addresses problems resulting from the young person’s environment, such as parental marital problems, grief, child neglect, and child abuse. Important issues to look out for during assessments and their respective management are outlined.

Since mental illness contributes greatly to health problems, the authors include content on mental health promotion, including anti-bullying programmes in schools and social networking. In addition, there is a chapter for parents, which focuses on providing a secure sense of attachment, age-appropriate stimulation, guidance and respect for the child / adolescent as a person. The last part of the book provides general information on medications used in the child and adolescent age-group. It reminds health practitioners of the importance of providing psychological treatments before pharmacological treatments, or in combination, to young patients. It also advises on how to engage family members in treatment plans and explains to parents about the use and side-effects of various medications. The book ends with an appendix which lists the medications commonly used in childhood mental disorders, including the dosages, possible side-effects, and important points to note when prescribing the medications.

In conclusion, this is a fantastic book for health workers, parents, teachers or anyone who wants to know more about mental health problems in the child and adolescent population. It offers a quick reference guide to a wide range of child and adolescent mental illnesses, with case illustrations, assessment techniques, and possible plans of management. There are tables and boxes presenting summary information and numerous cartoons which make the book interesting to read. This book should be made widely available, especially in locations where there is no access to child and adolescent psychiatric services.

Terry Wong, MBBS (email address: wcy657@ha.org.hk)
Department of Psychiatry
Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital
Hong Kong SAR, China

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