Reviews
Dr Shaun Davis and Andrew Kinder, LID Publishing (www.lidpublishing.com), £9.99 hardback *

Positive Male Mind

Mental health remains a gender issue. It is widely acknowledged that men are less likely to seek professional help than women. 

Rating:

Book-review-rating_4-out-of-5_1

 

Equally, they are less likely to discuss their feelings with a partner. It is a culture that buys into historical stereotypes of strength and dominance, of being the breadwinner and the defender of the household.

Slowly there is a realisation that times change and Positive Male Mind is one of those indicators. It is a small book but one that covers a lot of potentially life changing – and saving – material aimed at men in a deliberately concise and user-friendly way. There are comprehensive, if brief, lists of good habits to promote resilience and good sleep – usually ending with the sensible advice, “If these don’t work after a while … see a specialist”. 

A short chapter on “talking to a colleague with mental health issues” is particularly useful. It’s obvious from the items that crop up repeatedly on the various lists (eat, sleep, exercise and so on) that each short section is intended to be read as a standalone in one five-minute session so it reads like a mental health first aid pocket book.

The book’s weakness is that the style is too calm, factual and concise. Indeed, covering the importance of self-awareness as a cornerstone of positive mental health in a few hundred words is in “a very brief introduction to” territory. 

For example, under top tips, “eat well” features often but doesn’t expand into something as simple as “maintain a steady blood sugar level with regular healthy snacks like apples and (only) the odd treat – the fatigue associated with a ‘crash’ can promote bad habits (too many strong coffees) and can make minor daily stresses major ones”.

Some tips can be covered briefly. For example, that the self-pacing and flexibility of working from home can help reintegration to work but must be set against the effects of isolating yourself. Ideally, some of the more important sections could have gone into more depth. The spacious and icon-heavy layout is user-friendly but some cartoons, case studies, references to famous films or people, or even personal “lived experience” disclosure would have added colour and depth. 

It’s likely that the authors made a conscious decision to keep well away from what might be called the “airport bookshop” approach given the gravity of the subject matter. However, I wish they hadn’t.

What the authors certainly have achieved is to cover this incredibly important subject calmly, clearly, concisely, constructively and comprehensively. To continue the alliteration, it’s also entirely correct. Readers will be unlikely to disagree with a single, important word.

www.lidpublishing.com

* price correct at the time of review

 

Dr Tim Marsh CFIOSH is a chartered psychologist.
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