Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Mental Health Care Issues in America: An Encyclopedia

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Mental Health Care Issues in America: An Encyclopedia

Article excerpt

Mental Health Care Issues in America: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Michael Shally-Jensen. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013. 2 vols. Acid free $189 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-013-3). E-book available (978-1-61069-014-0), call for pricing.

Since the 1950s, deinstitutionalization has revolutionized how Americans receive mental health care. In the early twentieth century, acute or chronic patients were treated (and sometimes permanently confined) in residential facilities.

Now, the preferred courses are often counseling and medications. The stated purpose of Mental Health Care Issues in America: An Encyclopedia (MHCIiA) is to "provide an overview" of this shift, including its benefits and limitations (xv).

Although Shally-Jensen does not hold a related degree or work in the mental health field, many of MHCIiAs contributors are faculty or graduate students in relevant disciplines within institutions offering APA or CSWE-accredited programs in Clinical Psychology or Social Work. MHCIiA includes approximately 115 entries arranged alphabetically and contains entries on many timely topics, such as insurance law, patient rights, and veteran's mental health care. Each is typically 6-8 pages long and written at a high-school or early undergraduate reading level. Each includes bibliographies, notably containing numerous citations to current scholarly literature.

Various criticisms can be made of MHCIiAs coverage. Given MHCIiAs "Introduction," which emphasizes the transition from residential to community-based care, I was surprised not to find more information about the system (or un-system?) itself. An entry on "Community Mental Health" briefly describes certain care models (assertive community treatment, case management, and family psychoeducation), but there seem to be no entries that describe the vast nonprofit sector which offers information and support to patients and caregivers. Likewise, the entries on "Insurance and Parity Laws;" "Poverty, Unemployment, Economic Inequality, and Mental Health;" "Preventative Mental Health Programs;" and "Workplace Issues and Mental Health" do not describe employee assistance programs and other in-house efforts to support workers' mental health. …

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