A New Resource for Families Coping with Mental Illness

Sometimes families need to make tough decisions. Mental health is a particularly tricky topic.  There’s a lot of confusing information out there, and, unfortunately, there’s still some reluctance in our society to openly discuss mental health concerns. Fortunately, there are more and more resources available. One new one at HCLS is The Family Guide to Mental Health Care by Lyloyd I. Sederer, M.D.

Dr. Sederer is Medical Director of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH). He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Columbia/Mailman School of Public Health. Previously, he served as the Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene Services in NYC, has been Medical Director and Executive Vice President of McLean Hospital, and Director of the Division of Clinical Services for the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Sedereris also the recipient of several prestigious awards, has published 9 books for professional and lay audiences, and has contributed over 350 articles in medical journals and non-medical publications. Additionally, he is Medical Editor for Mental Health for the Huffington Post/AOL.

All of Dr. Sederer’s experience has left him more than qualified, professionally and compassionately, to write a new kind of guide.  In short, The Family Guide to Mental Health Care is no DSM-5. In fact, one of the first indications that this is not a clinical manual comes in the form of the Foreword written by Glenn Close (yes, that Glenn Close) in which she describes some of her personal experience with a sister with a bipolar disorder and a nephew with a schizoaffective disorder. She goes on to suggest that her family could have been spared a lot of confusion and pain if they’d had Dr. Sederer’s book.

And that seems to be why and how the book was written, for families, to help enlighten them as well as deal with potentially devastating situations, especially since family members and friends are often the first to realize when someone has a problem.

Dr. Sederer acknowledges how daunting the current mental health system can seem.  So he provides helpful info such as how to tell that someone has a mental illness,  first and best steps to take, and where to find the right care.  Families’ concerns are given particular attention. The book goes through what medications are helpful and potentially dangerous, ways to navigate privacy laws so parents can still help adult children, whether a teenager may be experiencing typical adolescent distress or an illness, and many other concerns.

Sederer covers topics from depression, bipolar illness and anxiety to eating and traumatic disorders, schizophrenia, and more. But he covers this wide spectrum of information in a clear (plain English!) and caring way. He uses real-life examples and includes checklists and sample questions to bring to a doctor’s appointment. This practical approach clearly indicates the level of thoughtfulness and concern for families that went into the book, and, if further proof is needed, Sederer dedicates the book “to families, whose love, dedication, and courage make all the difference.”