I often get offered books to review. Most I don't accept but this one interested me because of the different perspective on mental health that it offered.
A Balanced Life is written by Tom Smith. Based partly on research and, more importantly I think, on Tom's experiences with his daughter who had bipolar and subsequently committed sucide, the book provides a useful insight into what family members and friends can expect when someone in their life suffers from a mental illness.
The book outlines nine key strategies for coping with the mental illness of a loved one. These strategies cover medication, therapist, self-esteem and support issues among others. All of these are well-illustrated by the author's and others' personal experiences but, what I really liked, was the inclusion of a number of questions in each section to stimulate personal reflection.
The only minor issue I might have with recommending the book is the ninth strategy which references to dependence on a Higher Power, akin to some of the 12 step programs. Why? Simply because this can alienate some people, even though by talking of a Higher Power, the author attempts to take a spiritual as opposed to religious approach.
I found the book to be extremely readable, well-structured and a useful for resource for anyone finding themselves in this position.
If you want to learn more about Tom Smith and the Karla Smith Foundation, named for his daughter, which supports parents and loved ones of mentally ill people, please follow the links.