The International Handbook on Mental Health Policy is a reference book for mental health professionals, scholars, and students. Its focus is on mental health policy, including the extent of the problem; mental health history; policy, organization, and services in the 1980s and 1990s (current policy developments, current organization, current services, and mental health personnel and treatment); public policy process; special policy issues (the mentally ill and the mentally retarded, the mentally ill and substance abuse, the mentally disordered offender, deinstitutionalization, funding issues, and consumer rights); and conclusions and discussion. Its intent is to provide comparable information about mental health policy in a spectrum of countries, developed and developing, around the world.
The book is descriptive and analytical. As there is a lack of theory concerning comparative mental health policy internationally, this book is not theoretically based. Its structured description and analysis may help lead toward theory building. The book has been written by a variety of authors with very diverse backgrounds. Some of the authors are involved as practitioners delivering mental health services, others are involved in government agencies developing mental health policy and/or organizing mental health service delivery, and others are academics studying mental health policy. Some authors have been involved in the mental health field for over thirty years, while others have been specialists in public policy but have researched mental health policy in their country for the first time. Thus the viewpoints vary from a fresh outsider's view of mental health policy to viewpoints based on a high degree of specialty and long-term historical involvement with the area. Likewise, the authors come from diverse fields of study, including political science, psychology, sociology, social work, health sciences, medical sciences, and psychiatry. This means that there is a