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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Where There Is No Psychiatrist: A mental health care manual

Vikram Patel

Price: £8.00

Members' discount available

Published: Feb 2003

Format: paperback

Number of pages: 266

ISBN: 9781901242751

Where There Is No Psychiatrist: A mental health care manual

Please note a new edition of this book is coming out in November 2017.
(Book trade: you can still purchase this edition direct from us if you need, see our Prescot Street contact details.)

Even though mental illnesses are common and cause great suffering in every part of the world, many health workers have a limited understanding about mental health and are less comfortable dealing with mental illness. This book is a practical manual for mental health care for the community health worker, the primary care nurse, the social worker and the primary care doctor, particularly in developing countries.
After giving the reader a basic understanding of mental illness, the book goes on to describe more than 30 clinical problems associated with mental illness and uses a problem-solving approach to guide the reader through their assessment and management. Mental health issues as they arise in specific health care contexts are described, for example in a refugee camp, a school health programme or with people suffering from AIDS, as well as in mental health promotion. The final section combines quick reference information for common problems and it also includes chapters for the reader to personalise the manual for a particular location, for example, by entering local information on voluntary agencies, the names and costs of medicines and words in the local language for emotional symptoms.
  • A problem-solving approach to diagnosis and management.
  • Sections on clinical management of common problems associated with mental illnesses.
  • Relevant mental health issues in different contexts of work.
  • Over 150 illustrations and case studies.
  • A section for the reader to personalise it for his or her area of work.
  • A practical guide to the use of psychiatric medicines and simple psychological treatments.
  • Extensive cross-referencing in the book and a glossary of all technical words.
  • Simple explanations and descriptions, without jargon.
  • Flow-charts on common clinical problems for quick reference.

*Highly commended for the Mental Health category of the British Medical Association's 2004 Medical Book Competition.*


“Vikram Patel's manual responds to a considerable need of the World Health Organisation. The places where there is no psychiatrist are so numerous across the world that teaching a basic understanding of mental illness to health professionals is vital. The World Health Organisation should be grateful to Vikram Patel for having fulfilled such an important gap.”
Dr Benedetto Saraceno
Director, Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, World Health Organisation

Summary of Contents

Download the full Contents List of Where There Is No Psychiatrist


List of boxes and tables
How to use this manual

Part I. An overview of mental illness
1. An introduction to mental illness
2. Assessing someone with a mental illness
3. The treatment of mental illness

Part II. Clinical problems
4. Behaviours which cause concern
5. Symptoms which are medically unexplained
6. Habits which cause problems
7. Problems arising from loss and violence
8. Problems in childhood and adolescence

Part III. Integrating mental health
9. Mental health in other contexts
10. Mental health promotion and advocacy

Part IV. Localising this manual for your area
11. Medicines for mental illness
12. Resources in your area
Appendix. Flowcharts for clinical problem-solving
Glossary of terms for mental illnesses and their symptoms
Where There Is No Psychiatrist
Where There Is No Psychiatrist

“In a flat 20 minutes the reader would be equipped to assess someone with mental illness. The book is simple and has an appeal at various levels from an average lay reader to a medical practitioner. This great enduring effort from Vikram Patel is timely and a godsend for all.”
One India One People journal

“This is no ordinary text. It is designed to be used in the large tracts of the developing world where there is no easy access to skilled medical help. It is a very considerable undertaking, which succeeds with ingenuity and flair. The range of psychiatric problems covered is impressive. It is impossible to gauge the benefits to sufferers from mental disorder that this remarkable book will bring.”
W. A. Lishman
Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London

“The general practitioner (health worker or doctor) tends to know a lot about physical illnesses but too little about mental health. Until now, a huge gap has remained in the provision of primary health care in the field of mental health. Now, at last, that need has been magnificently filled, with Dr. Vikam Patel's very comprehensive yet remarkably user-friendly book Where There Is No Psychiatrist. How I wish had had this book years before!”
David Werner
Author of Where There Is No Doctor

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See also:

Where There Is No Child Psychiatrist: A mental healthcare manual

If you are interested in producing a foreign translation, or making a bulk sales purchase, of this book please email the Sales & Marketing Manager at the College.

You may be interested in this TED talk by Vikram Patel on improving mental healthcare in developing countries.