’This book is for anyone wanting to understand mental health from a straightforward and straight-talking perspective.’
Title: A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental: An A-Z
Author: Natasha Devon
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, 2018
Reviewer: Nicky Lambert, director of teaching and learning mental health and social work, Middlesex University
What was it like?
This book is a bold, personalised take on living with mental distress. Natasha Devon (MBE) is a campaigner, researcher and writer who draws on her own experiences to talk about issues ranging from anxiety and issues with food to medication and navigating the health system.
She has used an ‘A-Z’ format to organise this book into short, pithy chapters. Some readers may find this structure means that each topic is dealt with too briefly, however this accessibility allows the reader to jump in and out of subjects according to their interest. There are notes and references for each section so you can follow up on information as needed and this style avoids disrupting the conversational style which is central to it.
What were the highlights?
Although Natasha’s irreverence could easily divide opinion, there are plenty of textbooks for people who want a neutral ‘tone of voice’ and I enjoyed the fact that she is outspoken on well, nearly everything! I enjoyed the cartoons which pop up throughout the book and the fact that she writes to entertain as well as to inform her readers.
Strengths & weaknesses:
Natasha writes with passion and clarity and is an engaging, helpful and humorous guide to the world of mental health. Another strength of the book is that societal concerns like gender, and symptoms like low mood are explored outside of psychiatric ‘settings’ and presented in an everyday context. It’s very personal and idiosyncratic take on the world and one that will help many people make sense of confusing feelings and worrying experiences.
Who should read it?
This book is for anyone wanting to understand mental health from a straightforward and straight-talking perspective. It is targeted towards the public rather than at mental health professionals but anyone with an interest in the emotional wellbeing would benefit from reading this book as it offers a social rather than biomedical perspective and presents issues that are important for everyone to understand in a new light.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in mental health and wellbeing - especially if they are supporting young people.
a beginers guide to being mental