Book Ends: “Guide to Natural Mental Health” by William Jiang, MLS
Book Review by Columnist Kurt Sass
William Jiang was the Chief Librarian of the New York State Psychiatric Institute Patient and Family Library for seven years. His experience is deftly demonstrated in his well-researched resource guide titled “Guide to Natural Mental Health.”
In this guide, Mr. Jiang cites a tremendous amount of scientific articles, as well as medical studies and research as examples of how various “natural” methods of improving one’s mental health has proven beneficial. The most frequently used sources for his information and data come from The National Institute of Mental Health, Medline Plus and the online version of the Physician’s Desk Reference.
One thing I like about Mr. Jiang’s approach towards natural treatments is that he takes a very responsible, open-minded approach. For example, he prefaces his findings by stating that “the information in the book is not intended to be used for a medical doctor’s advice.”
One may be misled by the title. Upon first glance, it would be easy to think that this is just another book hawking the miracles of the latest magic herb or pushing the wonders of a one week seminar. There is no sales pitch or wheeling-dealing going on here—just information.
Sure, there are some sections about how vitamin D, fish oil and some natural supplements have been proven beneficial in helping those with depression, bipolar disorder, and other psychiatric disorders; but much of what Mr. Jiang writes about when he uses the term “natural” has to do with topics such as exercise, meditation, significant others, eating right, pets, socialization, work, education and what he calls sleep hygiene.
Now we all know that it is better for us to get more sleep, and to exercise, be more sociable, etc. What Mr. Jiang has done for us, however, is all the leg work by answering some of the questions we have, such as: how do we know that this may really work? Has this ever been proven?
Not only does Mr. Jiang give concrete examples of how these treatments have been proven effective, he has even gone the extra step to separate them into different sections for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and schizophrenia. So, if you are looking for help with one particular diagnosis, it will be easy to find.
Mr. Jiang has also updated the book to include an entire section on digital addictions. In fact, Internet gaming disorder has just recently been recognized in the DSM-V.
In conclusion, I recommend this book to anyone who has ever thought that anything such as exercise, light therapy, yoga, pets, meditation, etc. may improve their mental health but has been hesitant to try one of these or similar methods because they have never seen any sort of backup proof in black and white.
Note: Guide to Natural Mental Health is available on Amazon.com. William Jiang is also the author of A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope.