You Don't Have to Be Mad to Work Here

A Psychiatrist’s Life

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Pub Date 16 May 2024 | Archive Date 15 Jun 2024

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A woman with bipolar flies from America in a wedding dress to marry Harry Styles.

A lorry driver with schizophrenia believes he’s got a cure for coronavirus.
A depressed psychiatrist hides his profession from his GP due to stigma.

Most of the characters in this book are his patients. Some of them are his family. One of them is him.

Unlocking the doors to the psych ward, NHS psychiatrist Dr Benji Waterhouse provides a fly-on-the-padded-wall account of medicine’s most mysterious and controversial speciality.

Why would anyone in their right mind choose to be a psychiatrist? Are the solutions to people’s messy lives really within medical school textbooks? And how can vulnerable patients receive the care they need when psychiatry lacks staff, hospital beds and any actual cures?

Humane, hilarious and heart-breaking, You Don’t Have to Be Mad to Work Here is an enlightening and darkly comic medical memoir - from both sides of the doctor’s desk.


A woman with bipolar flies from America in a wedding dress to marry Harry Styles.

A lorry driver with schizophrenia believes he’s got a cure for coronavirus.
A depressed...

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ISBN 9781787333178
PRICE £18.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

This book has gone through some masterful editing work because the way is constructed not only makes it flow smoothly but is also very gripling. The story of Benji Waterhouse feels very raw, following the struggles and disillusions of working in NHS's psychiatry but also interweaving his own experiences of familial dysfunctions and being on the receiving end of psychotherapy.

It was at times shocking insight to the ins and outs of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric treatment and how the system of healthcare makes it difficult to provide people with the care they often need. "You Don't Have to Be Mad to Work Here" also showcases coping mechanisms if psychiatric wards staff and the author makes sure there's enough context given to his mental health-related musings.

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What a great book! As well as giving you a devastating look into the impossibly pressured world of NHS psychiatry, it’s personal and humorous.
Dr Benji Waterhouse writes this via case studies - the one that sticks in my mind is the very posh banker with a noose in his bathroom - and via his account of his own therapy, dysfunctional family and new relationship with Esther.
What’s saddest is the way his supervisor quickly teaches him to shut down his compassionate questioning in order to move the patients through the system quickly. And the suicide bridge where one side is in one NHS area and the other in another, leading psychiatrists to pass the buck wherever possible.
Highly recommended: hilarious, realistic and sad by equal measure.

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As a current worker within mental health this was certainly a book that attracted me. It was a wonderfully written eye opener,
It’s a must read and is something I would recommend to others in and outside of the NHS and mental health.

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You Don't have to be Mad to work here by Benji Waterhouse is a fantastic book. I loved it.

Benji is a Psychiatrist in the NHS and this is his story of working over the last couple of years, including during the covid pandemic. The tales of work are interspersed with his own life events and looking back over his life before becoming a Doctor.

Its well written with lots of humour to lift you from some of the devastating cases that he sees. Definitely makes you look at mental health care in the NHS in a different way.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK for the ARC Copy of the book. This review is my own opinion.

Will post review on Amazon once released.

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“You don’t have to be mad to work here” is a refreshingly well-written memoir, slash non-fiction, medical book by Dr Benji Waterhouse about NHS mental health services.

The book appealed to me as I have first-hand experiences with the NHS mental health service, in fact, there is a recurring patient within the book with the same (perhaps erroneously, for me) diagnosis, and it was nice to see a doctor not stigmatise it further. Waterhouse presents the patients carefully, with thought and spattered with humour, with extremely dark moments.
Moments in the book made me laugh; others made me despair about the direction of the NHS. I give credit to Dr Waterhouse for at moments commenting about how the lack of resources in the NHS (time, money, staff, beds, etc.) resulted in attempts to quick-discharge patients and speed-running assessing patients in A&E with backlogs. A lot of doctors, I’m sure would shy away from making such comments about themselves and their shifting attitudes in their work - losing compassion overtime.
This is a book about what it is like to work in psychiatry, but also about his own life—his parents, relationships, his brothers, and his own mental health struggles—including his own depression and increasing hopelessness. This book documents, true moments of personal despair and triumph. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about the NHS and the state it is in, people who enjoy doctors memoirs— it particularly reminded me of Dr. Richard Shepherd's ( a forensic pathologist) books, as the book has some hard hitting personal elements intertwined with patients stories.

Will definitely recommend to customers who are fans of the above, or looking for a different type of book!

Very good, 5/ 5. Thank you netgalley and the publishers for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review

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Having worked in the mental health system I was really interested to read Benji Waterhouses's memoirs centring around his training in psychiatry. It reminded me a little of Dr Adam Kay's books but Benji's honesty, openness and true commitment to his clients shone through and gave this book a warmer feel in my opinion.
The personal and professional challenges Benji faced both on and off the wards were dealt with with humour and sensitivity and served to highlight the flaws in a very inadequately resourced mental health system. There were moments of sadness alongside glimmers of hope but I was left with an overwhelming sense of the need for extensive change within NHS mental health services for the sake of both patients and staff.
This could have been a doom and gloom book but Benji's wit prevented this from being the case and there were plenty of laugh out loud moments. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
I am grateful to the publishers and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book.

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An excellent and well-written book. I couldn't put it down. It is a sad indictment of the woeful level of NHS mental health provision in this country, which has absolutely nothing to do with the hard-working staff who struggle every day to try and help their patients. It is frankly heart-breaking to see how a whole sector of society is deemed unimportant by the people who control the money. This book was a real eye-opener for me, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who cares about mental health.

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I really enjoyed reading this book. The use of comedy, particularly black humour, suits the discussion of mental illness. As someone who's had mental illness on and off, sometimes you need to make fun of it to not allow it to be in charge.
An interesting and often poignant insight into mental health services and the effect it can have on those at the frontline.
I admire the writer's honesty in reflecting upon his own mental health and the impact of the patenting he received.
Lots of interesting cases and their outcomes. It leaves me more frustrated though about how low the government place mental health services in their funding and agendas.

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Loved this book. Although if I’m ever having a mental health crisis, please remind me not to do it on the NHS. Cleverly-written, this book takes you through the mental healthcare system, the people who keep it afloat and those who miraculously make it in - and hopefully - out the other side. Laugh out loud portrayal of a web of people and places both in and outside the system where eventually compassion and love will find its way to the fore.

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Having worked in the NHS I am drawn to medical memoirs and this one is brilliant. Open, honest and eminently readable, we follow Dr Waterhouse into his chosen speciality as a Psychiatrist through case histories and his own doubts about his chosen career. He comes from a dysfunctional but loving family which he explores through his own therapy.
Underpinning it all is the state of Mental Health services; underfunded, lack of beds, lack of staff and the danger inherent in dealing with the odd dangerous patient. It’s no wonder doctors burn out.
Nevertheless there is a lot of humour in the book, some of it laugh out loud but never demeaning. Lots of footnotes also which add to the clarity. A stellar read which I really enjoyed.

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SUCH an entertaining yet eye-opening read! It is a memoir of Dr Benji Waterhouse’s first forays into working as a NHS psychiatrist, through various inpatient and community placements. Alongside describing the patients he meets and the profession struggles he faces, he also describes confronting his personal demons through therapy. It sounds like a tough read, and while it is in places (it forces the reader to face the plight of NHS services), that bleakness is tempered by the humour infused in the descriptions. In places, this book is laugh-out-loud funny, and I say this as someone who is currently a patient in NHS mental health services. It is funny but in no way degrading of individuals and their illnesses.

Five stars from me!

Thank you so much to the publisher for giving me free access to this ARC in return for a fair review.

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Wry memoirs about mental illness, whether by patients or those who care for them, are my comfort read (let's not delve too deeply into what this says about me). This is one of the best I have read, the perfect blend of vulnerability and gallows humour. I loved the passages about family and relationships as much as the insights into the workings (or not) of the NHS. Comparisons to Adam Kay are inevitable - there are as many laughs on these pages, but there's a warmth and humility, and a respect and compassion for the patients, that sets Waterhouse apart.

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This is a great book. I recommend it to anyone interest in what happens inside the British NHS mental health services. The author is a psychiatrist and the book takes you through his training years and experiences. I have some familiarity with what he describes because a friend suffered from mental illness and was regularly on a section or about to be placed on one and met a number of nurses and psychiatrists at that time. While I think we are all more comfortable about talking about mental health in terms of mindfulness, anxiety and self-care, I don’t think society yet has a handle on mental illness such as paranoia, psychosis and mania. I feel like this book introduces it via some damaged and unfortunate individuals, and it helps to familiarise and humanise what is otherwise scary and “different”. It does so with a light touch and maybe people will realise how many are struggling because the services are oversubscribed and psychiatrists are burning out with the pressure.

The author has a self-deprecating sense of humour and describes his childhood so brilliantly without blame. I hope he’s doing OK now and his Dad finished the building project he started!

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Great read, really enjoyed it! Great insight into a psychiatrist world. Very funny and moving. Definitely recommend if you enjoyed This is going to hurt.

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I liked this book for two good reasons: the sense of humor that constantly made me laugh out loud and the true, raw story of what it is like to work as a physiotherapist for the NHS. So many nerve-gripping and intense stories were shared, making my heart feel it, and my mind is still wondering and questioning the UK health support systems for both the patients and health professionals. I admire the mental strength that goes behind these tough decision-makings. The doctor not only shared his true story but also other work colleagues' stories. I'm grateful for the opportunity to read something so raw and honest. Thank you to the author and NetGalley; I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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I really loved this book. It was very honest about the constraints of working in the NHS and very engaging. Despite the complex topic it was really easy to read and all the characters were bought to life in a sensitive and empathetic way.

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Thanks to PRH as always for the early access, I very much enjoyed this and really hope that everyone gives it a read as it’s such a fantastic book. It’s a very insightful and interesting account of what it’s really like to work as an NHS psychiatrist, highlighting all the challenges that doctors face. It’s humorous and funny, but also heart breaking to learn about some of the true stories patients and staff have been through. Benji’s writing style is relaxed and easy to read, and is never bogged down in technical terms that no one apart from doctors would understand. It gives you just the right amount of information for you to understand the job and speciality. I genuinely couldn’t put it down, it's brilliant and I can’t wait for this to be published!

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Everyone should read this book. Mental health needs investment and understanding, compassion and support.

Incredible storytelling, with humour, warmth and compassion, yet never shying away from the complexities and realities of mental illness. The case studies are powerful. Some patients are able to manage their condition, some do not and some do make recoveries.

I won't forget this book. Ever.

Thank you to Vintage, Random House and Netgalley for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is brilliant!

Funny and charming and full of heart.

Fascinating to read about psychiatry and mental health in the NHS but also interesting to ‘meet’ Benji and become absorbed in his world.

I laughed. I cried. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in psychiatry and humans!

Honest review for advance Net Gallery copy.

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A brilliant insight into the world of psychiatry by the author Dr Waterhouse who likes to be known as Benji or Benjamin (not Ben please!).
It was heartwarming yet at times harrowing but also very funny in parts.
Benji talks of his own childhood difficulties, current therapy and personal life as well as some of the patients stories. It tells of a sadly very broken system and how more often than not, mental health is just not priority. What showed throughout was Benjis passion to help his patients, he was warm, honest & humorous.
I really enjoyed his writing, the chapters were nice & short & I wanted to pick it up any chance I got which is always a good sign - highly recommend!
Thank you to netgalley for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

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I have read many accounts from psychiatrists in the past, like Dr Waterhouse I know both sides of the appointment, but I have never read another account which was quite so beautiful.

At no point in this book is mental illness played for laughs without context. Severe mental illness has its funny side, there’s no doctor, patient or carer that would disagree, but context is the difference.

Sensitive, deeply funny and important. I would suggest reading this book would do more good for everyone than taking part in a silly challenge for world mental health day. This book is informative, and it’s not based in the “prettier” mental health problems, it knows those are focused on the most and shines light in on the taboo, scary sounding ones.

Waterhouse sees humanity and, no matter how much budget constraints want him to stop, he cares and this takes its own toll on him.

I shouldn’t think I will read a more important book this year.

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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You Don't Have to Be Mad to Work Here by Benji Waterhouse could be described as the mental health version of This is Going to Hurt and if there’s any justice, it should be equally popular. Benjamin Waterhouse relates his time working in the NHS psychiatry specialism, from his first days as a trainee through to being a consultant. He describes it as “A fly on the padded wall account of my decade working in medicine’s most mysterious and controversial specialty.” It is both informative and entertaining, giving a privileged insight into the dark arts of treating patients’ with poor mental health. At the same time it’s a jolly good laugh. It’s a prime example of tragedy and comedy being two sides of the same coin.

For Waterhouse, each year’s training placement sees him addressing a variety of problems and helping various patients to the best of his ability. There are hurdles to overcome. It isn’t a given that patients will comply with their doctor’s attempts to heal them. He also has to work within the constraints of the NHS budget and rules, which is where a lot of frustration arises. Waterhouse’s accounts swing from being deeply distressing to darkly humorous; a strategy he admits doctors often resort to in order to engage with difficult subjects and keep their own sanity. Often he is dealing with seriously ill patients; those “at less palatable end of the spectrum - the ones for whom cold water swimming and mindful colouring in probably won’t cut it.” There is a fair sprinkling of fascinating facts about the history of psychiatry, starting with a helpful guide to the distinction between the ‘Ps’: psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology and being psychic. Waterhouse also writes about his own family and relationships, which aren’t always plain sailing.

I heartily recommend this book: you’ll learn a lot about situations you probably hope never to encounter, and you’ll develop a deep appreciation for those who consider helping others to be their life’s work. (It’s also pretty funny!)

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