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Introduction to Mental Health- Substance Use

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Title: Introduction to Mental Health- Substance Use

Edited by: David B Cooper

Publisher: Radcliffe Publishing, 2011

Reviewer: Carol Cooper, senior lecturer in mental health nursing, Sheffield Hallam University

What was it like?

This is the first book in a series of six and as it says, it is an introduction to the topic. Although edited by David Cooper and thoroughly enjoyed by me, Carol Cooper, we are not related - or at least not to my knowledge.

The book begins with a discussion of the careful use of terminology in this topic. The main point being that substance use is not always a problem and covers a wide variety of substances, a good and salient reminder I thought. This title says it aims to highlight best practice today, challenge concepts and stimulate debate.


It is divided into 14 chapters, beginning with setting the scene, learning to learn, dual diagnosis and terminology. It then moves on to consider Kate’s journey and reminds the reader that professionals are merely guests in people’s lives. Another important reminder. The next chapters consider the topics of racism, physical health, the experience of illness, psychological impacts and working with people. The book culminates in chapters on skills, capabilities and professional development, attitudes and brief training interventions, ethics, brain injury and finally heatwave. The latter being a topic I had rarely considered in relation to its effect on clients.

There are key points for learning placed at strategic points throughout the text and I certainly found it thought provoking.

What were the highlights? 

The book appears to meet its intended aims. It certainly made me think about how I view this client group. It also made me reconsider some of the commonly used terminology and consider alternative viewpoints, most of which were presented in a very client centred and easily understandable yet engaging format. One sentence that stood out for me was ” The most difficult to treat individuals often need the most help”. This is a powerful reminder to those professionals struggling with clients.

Strengths & weaknesses

This title is full of thought- provoking information and is easily readable, however, I found reading the book cover to cover difficult. The chapters did not seem to have a flow and as such it is probably better to dip into depending on your area of interest.

Who should read it?

Although I am an experienced mental health nurse (but by no means a specialist in substance use) I learnt lots and also had many useful reminders of things I knew but had forgotten. It is probably best used to dip into and as such, could be useful for many differing audiences from students through to professionals who come into contact with individuals with mental health problems and want to know more about the impact of substance use on their clients.



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