Preventing Mental Illness in Practice

Preventing Mental Illness in Practice

Preventing Mental Illness in Practice

Preventing Mental Illness in Practice


In this follow up to Preventing Mental Illness, Jennifer Newton describes real life examples of good practice in preventive mental health. Five areas covering the life span have been identified and promising strategies are described in detail: what is provided, how the target group is engaged, the resources required, management problems and evidence of effectiveness. Interviews with both clients and providers help to bring to life the descriptions as we learn how the support came to be needed and what benefits they themselves feel have been reaped.
These descriptive studies, together with criteria for judging the efficacy of interventions, provide an excellent resource for planners and policy makers. The book will also be invaluable to those who seek to implement preventive policies in their day to day work - lives - such as social workers, clinical psychologists, health visitors, community psychiatric nurses and general practitioners.


It is widely believed that a good deal of the personal distress that is commonly labelled mental illness is preventable. A review of some of the recent aetiological research confirms this view, and shows that it is increasingly possible to offer suggestions to individuals, families, practitioners and planners about where our best hopes for prevention should lie (Newton, 1988).

Of course the research workers who have brought these new insights into aetiology would almost certainly take the view that more research is required, and that evaluation of intervention trials needs replicating (and, in some instances, setting up for the first time). But current knowledge is sufficiently impressive that we can at least begin to think about prevention, and about how existing services might be influenced by current research. This book therefore examines existing service provision in the light of insights gained from research, and represents the second of the two stages of the prevention research project commissioned by MIND (the National Association for Mental Health).

By bringing together some basic principles of ‘good practice’in preventive care, with evidence from research about how we might hope to prevent mental health problems, the aim has been to identify, from the existing range of health and social welfare services, those approaches to care that hold particular promise for prevention. Some are more innovative than others, of course, and many of the projects visited would not describe their central aims in terms of mental health prevention. Nevertheless, applying criteria for likely effectiveness in prevention brings out a number of issues that will be familiar to service providers accustomed to considering their effectiveness by other means.

The projects are described in some detail, to illustrate what is involved in establishing such a scheme, what resources are needed, how clients are offered help, what that help consists of, and in particular, what has led clients to need that help, and how, in their view, it is meeting those needs. Such evaluation is highly subjective, but can nevertheless prove revealing. Of course, I have tried to choose promising projects which also have systematic evaluative data

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