The primary purpose of the Routledge International Handbook of Critical Mental Health is to provide a one-stop source manual for students, scholars, researchers and professionals with which to systematically problematise the field of mental health. While this is not the first book to review a variety of critical positions in the area (for example, see Coppock and Hopton 2000), no previous text has offered the extensive range of different theoretical perspectives and critical analyses of topics which are collected together here. The main reason for producing such a resource now is to address the contemporary lack of systematic critical thinking on the practices, priorities and knowledge base on which psychiatric and related professionals lay claims to expertise on mental health and illness. The first part of this chapter takes a brief look at the history of critical work within the area, along with the recent ‘retreat’ from critical thinking and the dominance of conservative approaches, as well as the main arguments why such positions need to be challenged now more than ever. The second part of the chapter introduces the reader to each section and chapter of the book in turn, from the theoretical positions at the front-end of the collection, to the critical investigations of talk therapy which conclude the volume.