By: Carmit Zur, MSW, ACSW
Book review of
Diversity Issues in the Diagnosis, Treatment, and Research of Mood Disorders , edited by Sana Loue and Martha Sajatovic. Published by Oxford University Press, New York, 2008, 307 pages, $69.95.
As social workers, our profession constantly challenges us to be able to relate to a diverse population and to think “outside the box” in order to be effective in providing services. The social work approach of a person in the environment values the importance of considering internal as well as external factors to fully understand the whole person.
In the book Diversity Issues in the Diagnosis, Treatment, and Research of Mood Disorders, the editors Sana Loue, JD, PhD, MPH and Martha Sajatovic, MD, address the importance of diversity in the mental health field, particularly with people who have mood disorders. Whereas the book was not written from the social work perspective per se, it validates a core value of the social work field: the importance of considering the environment as an important factor when working with diverse populations.
The book consists of fifteen chapters and includes an index. Each chapter focuses on how diversity can be integrated to different levels of care, from micro to macro, when we work with individuals of diverse backgrounds who have mood disorders. Topics of discussion include diagnosis, assessment, epidemiology among minority populations, treatment modalities, health care, complementary and alternative medicines, barriers in working with diverse populations, role of family, models for the delivery of care, outcome measurement, psychopharmacology, legal and ethical issues, recruitment and retention of minority populations, and training of professionals.
The editors of the book were successful in compiling a useful overview of the topic, and they convey the necessary sensitivity that professionals need to have, whether the professional role is direct or indirect, when working with people of diverse backgrounds with mood disorders. The book is easy to read and can be read as a whole or in parts without losing its purpose. There is a considerable amount of statistical and research information, as well as case examples. The editors incorporate discussions of the limitations and barriers, as well as provide useful suggestions. The reader is challenged to think “outside the box,” and the book discusses topics such as how we conceptualize what is a mood disorder and who is considered to be a minority group. The case examples are useful to gain a better understanding of how to incorporate the suggestions given in a more tangible manner. As a clinician, I appreciated the visual addition titled “an algorithm for cross cultural care” in the discussion of treatment modalities that explained how to incorporate diversity in clinical work.
The book is a useful resource for students and professionals and presents an important topic that is important for professionals to consider. The book can also be utilized by professors who would like to entice further discussion of the topics addressed in the book. It is through these considerations and discussions that we, as social workers, can keep our values fresh by understanding the people we treat as complex individuals who are affected by multiple factors.
Carmit Zur, MSW, ACSW, received her BA from the University of California, Los Angeles and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California School of Social Work with a mental health concentration. She is currently working for Jewish Family Service with the older adult population as a case manager and as a therapist.