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Friday 1 November 2013 10:38am

A Perspective on Women's Mental Health

Edited by Sarah L. Romans

folding_back_the_shadowsThe book

From anorexia to healing, from psychotropic drugs to psychotherapy, this book brings together a wide range of writings on different aspects of women's mental health. Folding Back the Shadows: A Perspective on Women's Mental Health is a collection of current writings by a broad spectrum of people – from researchers, through mental health professionals, to women with personal histories of mental disorder. The book is a synthesis of recent research and commentary, pulling together the biological and psycho-social aspects of womens' lives.

'The book will fill an international vacuum,' says Professor Sarah Romans, its editor. Folding Back the Shadows offers a holistic approach, emphasising the need to consider context in the search for causes of mental illness. A range of factors must be taken into account, such as gender differences, culture and ethnicity, biological factors, and chronic stressors such as poor education, poor housing and diet, unemployment, lack of childcare, and exposure to violence.

The idea for the book arose out of a seminar on women's mental health held in Dunedin in 1995, which was attended by 600 interested people. Some of the chapters originated as papers at that meeting. Chapters are organised in three sections: general issues, psycho-social determinants of mental health, and clinical issues. Specific areas discussed are wide-ranging. They include self esteem, the caring role, eating disorders, violence against women, substance abuse, issues for lesbians, resilience and coping, psychotherapy and psychotropic medication.

While it has a clear New Zealand focus, drawing from New Zealand examples, the topics covered are of international relevance, focusing on recent research, current areas of controversy and emerging trends worldwide. The 'new psychology of women' – which stresses the greater importance of social relations for women than for men – is a theme which filters throughout the book.

In recent years, women's mental health has become a significant topic in health research, service delivery and policy development. Modern statistics reveal that mental health problems comprise five of the six leading causes of disease-related disability for women in developed countries. The way forward for mental health includes continued high quality research across the spectrum. This book has been compiled as a contribution towards the improved mental health of women.

Folding Back the Shadows will be of use to health professionals (psychiatrists, GPs and obstetricians, nurses, occupational therapists and social workers) as well as policy-makers and those interested in women's issues. It is being used in training health professionals (medical and non-medical) and will be useful for social science and arts students, as well as women with mental illness and their families.

The editor

Dr SARAH ROMANS is a psychiatrist and Professor of Psychological Medicine at Otago University Medical School, Wellington. Of particular academic and clinical interest to Professor Romans is women's psychological and psychiatric mental health.


Joanne Baxter, Barbara Brookes, Cynthia Bulik, Peter Cheung, Valerie Clifford-Walton, Sunny Collings, Glenys Dore, Hilary Lapsley, Julie Leibrich, Heather McPherson, Judith Martin, Eleanor Morris, Barbara Mosley, Sarah Romans, Danielle Seminiuk, Trevor Silverstone, Keren Skegg, Anne Walsh

Publication details

Paperback, 150 x 230 mm, 280 pages, ISBN 1 877133 49 3, $39.95
Out of print

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