Like Duncan, I welcome a review of the book.

1. However, I am sorry Phil did not see that my chapter on mental health social work is highly critical of what he terms "very technical legalistic work", which happens to be the type of work social workers are obliged by law to treat as their top priority. I perhaps disagree with his view that it is only technical, as I think that assessing people in a mental health crisis from a psychosocial perspective can potentially be useful. However, the main point I made in the chapter is that the price social workers and their clients are paying for undertaking this work is giving up anything else they were doing before, some of which was very positive and innovative (e.g. the introduction of user involvement in policy and in managing resettlement services).

2. It seems to me that all mental health professions and disciplines borrow ideas from each other, and this is how it should be if we are to learn from each other (and hopefully from users and carers too!). Therefore for me to point out that nurses took some ideas from social workers is not at all a negative comment. The fact that most professions are reluctant to acknowledge the on-going borrowing is regrettable in my view, as it indicates the tendency to assume that there is nothing to learn from others, and that everything was invented by "our own group", whichever one it is.

3. As Phil knows I admire and value David Brandon's contribution to working with people with disabilities. His contribution was not specific to mental health social work, and therefore it was not singled out in my chapter, which was aimed to give an overview of developments only in mental health social work.

Shula Ramon


Dear Shula
Many thanks for your message and thank you also for taking the time to make some
important comments. I hope that my review of your chapter (and the book overall) did
not appear too begrudging. I was trying to write a 'critical' review of a 'critical'
text. That it was commissioned by a mental health nursing journal sharpened my focus
on the relevance of the book's contents for nurses. As I noted, you were the only
author to even mention nurses or nursing, which as I have already noted I found
astonishingly patronising in a genuinely negative sense. Rather like men discussing
the necessary care and support of children, without bothering to mention women. Such
a 'feminist' gaze could be considered highly apposite, tho I suspect that most MH
nurses will not even notice that they have been further marginalised, so conditioned
have they become to this supine position.
Regarding your own chapter, you are of course quite right. I apologise if my
comments on your chapter sounded too dismissive. 
Regarding the absence of David I think it is somewhat ironic that now his work is to
be relocated to 'people with disabilities'. Increasingly, many people in the
so-called 'mental health' field are claiming 'disability' status and I am not sure
that the catch-all concept of 'mental health' has very much currency, apart from
saying that some people have trouble with the living of their lives - or 'problems
in living' as Sullivan originally said. That applies as much to 'people with
disabilities' as anyone whose problem is supposedly 'inside their head' . However, I
am sure that if you asked any MH nurse to name a 'critical social worker' Brandon
would be first choice, at least for those of my generation. 
Anyway, thanks for encouraging me to think again about this book, and especially
your chapter on this fine bright morning. I wish you all continued success and I
hope that my clumsy comments do not prejudice our longstanding friendship and


Dear Phil,
Thanks for coming back to me.
Interestingly social workers often complain of being marginalised too..
I can assure you that your comments will not prejudice our friendship and
shared beliefs in what mental health work should be about!
Best wishes to Poppy too,