Time to Talk About Mental Health: New book a must read for families dealing with mental illness

Published 4:12 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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By Glenda Smith

For the Enterprise

This month’s “Time to Talk” topic is the newly released book, “You Are Not Alone” by psychiatrist and peer, Ken Duckworth, M.D. It is subtitled, “The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health with Advice from Experts and Wisdom from Real People and Families.”

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americns affected by mental illness. “You Are Not Alone,” the first book from NAMI, reminds people they are not alone and that there is help. All proceeds from sales go back to NAMI.

“You Are Not Alone” was “written with authority and compassion” and “is the essential resource for individuals and families seeking expert guidance on diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.” (book jacket). More than 125 individuals’ first-person stories illustrate the diversity of mental health journeys. Also included are:

• practical guidance on dealing with an array of mental health conditions and navigating care;

• research-based evidence on what treatments and approaches work; and

• insight and advice from renowned clinical experts and practitioners

“You Are Not Alone” is organized into four parts: Mental Health and Mental Health Conditions, which includes finding help, recovery, co-occurring substance use, trauma, and helping youth; The Recovery Journey: Evidence from Lived Experience, which includes the power of peers and community, culture and identity, and advocacy; Family Matters, which includes connection and communication, navigating the legal system, suicide, and family advocacy; and Best Practices, which includes most frequently asked questions, state-of-the-art care, and research.

Former director of the National Institutes of Mental Health and author, Thomas Insel, MD, refers to ‘You Are Not Alone’ as a must-read guide for families that “conveys hope, wisdom, and actionable information” and helps “navigate the stormy seas of a loved one’s mental illness”.

Author, Andrew Solomon, praises “You Are Not Alone” as invaluable and that it amplifies the voices of doctors and patients who have dealt with mental illness.  Reading the book “will help people facing similar challenges feel connected to a vast community”, not alone in their struggles.

Professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins School of Medicine and author, Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD said: “Dr. Duckworth provides excellent clinical information and practical advice”.

Author Bruce D. Perry, MD, PHD highly recommends “You Are Not Alone,” calling it an essential guide for mental health professionals and programs. He states that it is “a unique, hopeful catalog of first-person lived experience with mental health” compiled by a humane, experienced clinician. “The shared journeys will help others feel less isolated and overwhelmed”.

Therapist Lori Gottlieb said the shared personal experiences will help destigmatize mental health for others.

The author, Dr. Ken Duckworth, lives with his family in Boston.  Ken has worked with NAMI since 2003 and is: chief medical officer of NAMI, board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, previous commissioner and medical director at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, and worked on an ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) team, at an early psychosis program, at an elementary school, at a health plan, and with people who are unhoused.