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Mental health handbook fills gaps

LEARNING JOURNEYS' By Joy Mather and Sue Atkinson. Published by NIACE ISBN. 1-86201-168-0 pound;12.95

Learning Journeys by Joy Mather and Sue Atkinson is a valuable handbook for tutors and managers in adult education working with people with mental health difficulties.

There has not been much available to those in this field, and with the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (Part 4) and the establishment of the National Service Framework for Mental Health, this book fills the gap.

The first section looks at mental health, and the discrimination, social exclusion and attached stigma suffered by those with such disabilities.

There are heartening case studies about personal learning journeys that illustrate the immense value of adult education opportunities, not simply in the active promotion of mental health but in the life-enhancing benefits of social inclusion.

The handbook outlines clear "thinking and talking" activities that individual practitioners can use to stimulate discussion and reflect on current practice and action points to enable organisations to plan their provision. The "learning journey" is not just that of the individual with mental health problems but also of those seeking to help.

The chapter on "Looking After Yourself" deals sensitively with the stresses that may be felt by those working in this specialist area, and highlights action that organisations can take to protect staff.

The book concludes with useful appendices on support services, diagnosis, the Disability Discrimination Act, the National Service Framework, and includes useful contact details.

This handbook will be of great value to those with responsibilities in this field, and of great interest to the sympathetic lay reader. The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education is running an interactive and participatory conference in London on February 12 to promote the work and the handbook.

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