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20 Steps to Mental Health

Reviews the book 'Your Mental Health,' edited by Michael First and
Allen Frances.


You've been down in the dumps. A co-worker seems unusually jumpy. A new book hopes to help you decide whether you need professional help--or a vacation.

Your Mental Health (Scribner, 1999) is a friendlier version of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), the standard reference for mental health clinicians. DSM editors Michael First, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, and Allen Frances, M.D., chairman of the department of psychiatry at Duke University, penned the new book after finding that lay readers were braving the DSM's technical jargon to learn more about psychiatric illness.

Each chapter covers a complaint from "The Blues" to "Gender Problems." Dr. First warns that the guide can't replace professional help--but with managed care giving psychiatric treatment short shrift, people need to be proactive about their mental health.