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‘Fundamentals: A Guide for Parents, Teachers and Carers on Mental Health and Self-Esteem.’ – a review by Steven Brown

I had high hopes for this book from the outset, having had the pleasure to read “Hope with eating disorders” written by Lynn Crilly. This is a book I have passed on to many other sufferers and parents/carers, knowing the optimism, positive determination and advice, is infectious and can only give “hope” to those with or affected by eating disorders, hence my high hopes for this book and wasn’t disappointed. Lynn delivers the information in a concise and clearly well planned out style. Whilst Natasha Devon; a writer I was not familiar with (although I will be now) delivered what I can only describe as being refreshingly frank and honest; thought provoking and with a delicious hint of appropriately timed humour which had me actually laughing out loud at times – not what I expected from a book on self-esteem and mental health!

In one of the initial chapters Lynn provided the readers with an overview of some of the most prevalent mental illness, with the commonly found symptoms of each and an explanation of how although being diverse, are often interlinked and frequently stem back to anxiety. This is not something I have actually given much thought to before, but am now left wondering “how I did not see the importance of the link between them before!”

There is a brilliant chapter examining the possible reasons behind the ‘low self-esteem epidemic amongst the youth’ which explores economic, employment, political, technological, the education system and the culture of role models. This is brilliantly constructed, indicating Natasha’s belief that conversations around mental ill-health and self-esteem in adolescents typically only ever “scratch the surface”. Normally I would have been inclined to skim this chapter, expecting to have read these points in numerous forms before during my studies, but actually, I found myself reading it twice; so brilliantly was it expressed that it actually made be consider things I believed were well established in my understanding again.

A great example of how the book makes you rethink things is in the chapter on “the media”. I expected to read through the reasons why the media is damaging to our self-esteem, particular our young people, but instead I found a far more balanced and informative perspective. I suppose given Natasha is a journalist I should have expected a more reasoned insight, but as described, I too have been led into the preconceived idea that media as a whole is responsible for the ‘low self-esteem epidemic’. I won’t go into detail, as that would spoil the book and I actually want you to read it, but in my opinion it’s a chapter that will have thinking.

I certainly do not claim to be a literary expert; in fact I don’t have the faintest clue about linguistics or writing etiquette, but I am a reader, so I feel totally comfortable in saying that this is a brilliantly constructed, insightful and educational book. It is clear that both Lynn and Natasha know what they are talking about and that their insight stems from personal and practical experience – adding value and credence to the books contents. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more self-esteem, and if there were a pack given to all parents, this is one book that should definitely be included. In a similar vein, everyone who works with young people should be made to read this as part of their training, in my humble opinion it is far more relevant and concise than many of the academic based waffle or “pop-psychology” texts that are currently littering reading lists and book shelves around the world.

To order a signed copy of Fundamentals please go to Lynn Crilly’s website. 

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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