European guidelines on psychosocial support for uniformed service workers 2012
First published in December 2010, these guidelines were developed in cooperation with the uniformed services of the ambulance, fire brigade, army, police and sea rescue institutions. It provides tools for the uniformed rescue worker, colleagues and organisations to come to optimal psychosocial support after shocking events. A second edition was published in January 2012. An English version of these guidelines will soon be available at www.impact.arq.org.
The guidelines were presented at ECOTS 2011 in Vienna. The presentations can be downloaded from the website too.
Freund, A. (2011) Taming the Fire Within: Life after War. Braveheart Books: Gainesville, Florida
Dr Anne Freund is a member of this ESTSS task force and is a Veterans Administration psychologist in Florida.
This is a very readable booked primarily aimed at veterans but also of benefit to their families and to those mental health professionals who are new to working with this group.
It is purposely written in a conversational tone and is free from jargon and overly technical explanations. Dr Freund explains and normalises many of the adjustment issues that are experienced by veterans on return from theatre.
The battle mindset is used to explain reactions such as hyper-vigilance, their need for control, rage, withdrawal and numbing. Suggestions are made for managing these and drawing on social support networks. Communication with family members is encouraged throughout the book along with suggested phrases to broach sensitive issues.
There are photographs on nearly every time and this, along with reasonably short chapters, breaks the dialogue into chunks that are more easily assimilated – especially important for those with reduced focus and concentration due to their post combat reaction.
Reviewed by Liz Royle
A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists 1914-1994 by Ben Shephard
This is an excellent book on the history of military psychiatry in the twentieth century. It provides a balanced, readable account of the uneasy relationship between mental medicine and modern warfare. From shell-shock through combat fatigue to PTSD, it is a thought-provoking account of the historical and social facets of military trauma and how, at times, the mental health professionals were deeply entrenched in their own stance and battling each other's treatment methods and theories.
One of the interesting aspects of this book is how little in many ways we have changed. Politics and social attitudes still affect how we treat combatants. Issues of compensation, financial pressures, genuineness, stigma and denial are nothing new.
The book details the cycle (of denial, exaggeration of the problem, lessons learned and ultimately forgotten) that has existed in military psychiatry.
It is the kind of book that can make you reflect on your own views and practice and I would recommend as a must read for mental health professionals working with this population.
Reviewed by Liz Royle