Mental Illness and Your Town is a map showing the way, potentially, to mental illness help and healing. The author, Larry Hayes, has a professional background encompassing extensive work as an editorial page editor (of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Hayes is also an ardent advocate for the mentally ill. And a cascade of ideas, associated possibly with mental health improvement, pours forth copiously from the lay reader friendly writing pen of Hayes. Effectual ways, at the community level, to help and heal mentally ill persons are especially of interest to Hayes. The impassioned advocacy efforts of Hayes may, indeed, kindle flames of community interest to actively engage mental health issues. The bluntly edifying writing of Hayes may contribute also to erasing any lingering societal stigma enshrouding mental illness.
As an advocate for the mentally ill, Hayes is thoughtful with regard to his criticisms, and practical oriented regarding his many suggestions for change. Currents of thoughtful criticisms and practical suggestions flow dually and powerfully through the pages of the text.
The ideas put forth by Hayes are not supported by a bedrock of referenced research data. The lack of referencing, linking particular ideas of Hayes (for mental illness help and healing) to specific research materials, may be displeasing to readers seeking academic style writing discipline.
In another vein, the book, substantively, is suffused with anecdotal information. Some of these anecdotal data pertain specifically to Hayes, and to his family. More generalized discourse is also mixed into the textual composition.
For some, the anecdotal nature of the book’s substance may be animating in a pleasing way. For others, however, insistent on academic rigor, the suffusing of the book’s substance with anecdotal matter may be cause for critical concern.
The overarching substantive emphasis of the book is on the elucidation, by Hayes, of an expansive gamut of ways for communities to help and heal mentally ill persons.
The following are some of the textually described mechanisms which, in the view of Hayes, may be conducive to mental health betterment in communities: the forming of local suicide prevention councils; suicide “hotlines”; community “clearinghouses” (established to assist mentally ill persons); the preparation of community directories, identifying comprehensively available mental health services; the creating of “self test” brochures (for example, for depression); news mediums (as a way to inform the public about mental health issues); the “clubhouse” model, for mental health rehabilitation; the “Memphis” model, for police response to a mental health crisis; and ombudspeople, for the mentally ill.
A “Recommended Reading” structural section, following the text, provides citations for some mental health associated research materials, together with pithily annotated comment.
There is a further structural appendage (“Internet Resources”) which gives an alphabetized listing of mental health associated websites, accompanied by brief annotation.
Critical readers may opine that Hayes presents his sundry ideas, for mental health improvement, by means of discourse which, in style, is quite informal; and, in substance, is generalized in nature and superficial in academic depth.
Some may question also the real life practicality of particular suggestions advanced by Hayes. Ear to the financial ground readers may question, for instance, whether, in real life, there are sources of money sufficient to fund ideas, of Hayes, dependent on adequate funding.
But plainly, Hayes does a very good job, overall, of traversing the challenging path (towards mental health betterment) in doggedly determined pursuit of ways for communities to help and heal mentally ill persons.
The contents of this very fine book should be quite appealing to lay readers. The considerable efforts of Hayes, to achieve mental help improvement, may, additionally, greatly pique the professional interest of a vast range of groups, including: advocates for the mentally ill, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, psychotherapists, behavioral therapists, mental health rehabilitation specialists, family medicine doctors, emergency room doctors, pediatricians, local government officials, mayors, city council members, county council members, police officers, judges, juvenile justice professionals, school teachers, school superintendents, public health professionals, sociologists, clergy members, legislators, and health policy makers.