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Book Review: Defying Mental Illness: Finding Recovery with Community Resources and Family Support by Paul Komarek and Andrea Schroer

Church Basement Press (2011), $15.99

By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator

Defying Mental Illness

Not containing any embellishments—or even color on the cover—Defying Mental Illness provides what’s needed most: a lucid and more than adequate introduction to mental illness. Covering the gamut of mental illness topics, including facts and descriptions of all the prominent mental illnesses, children and mental health, finding treatment, crisis situations, paying for mental health care, housing, employment and others, Komarek and Schoroer have created a quick go-to-manual that can be comprehended by even the most unlearned individuals on the subject.

To put it simply: it’s a Cliff’s Notes on mental illness. This is not meant to be pejorative in any way. Cliff’s Notes can be an extremely helpful tool—millions of high school students can attest to this—and used as a quick introduction or reference to what can often be a complicated subject matter.

Understandably, because so many topics are covered, there is not an extensive description of any one particular topic. While this may be perfectly suitable for someone being introduced to mental illness, an individual with a specific interest, such as schizophrenia or employment, will want to find a source that focuses solely on that.

Komarek and Schroer also offer many helpful tips for individuals living with mental illness. The six tips suggested for parents to help their children adjust for symptoms of mental illness are particularly valuable. The first tip, establishing a fixed routine can help alleviate unexpected stressors that a child may experience.

Defying Mental Illness offers tangible, person-focused strategies that deliver information in a reader friendly manner that takes the initial overwhelming feeling of experiencing a mental illness and helps parse it out into easy to understand categories.