Blog

Art, asylums and advocacy: histories of mental health

Show Navigation
06/10/2014

By | From the Collections

With World Mental Health Day coming up on October 10, we’ve decided to dedicate all this week on the Wellcome Library blog to mental health themes.

An itinerant surgeon extracting stones from a man's head; symbolising the expulsion of 'folly'(insanity), they are surrounded by a group of people. Pencil drawing by Pieter Jansz Quast

An itinerant surgeon extracting stones from a man’s head; symbolising the expulsion of ‘folly ‘(insanity), they are surrounded by a group of people. Pencil drawing by Pieter Jansz Quast (1606-1647). Wellcome Images reference no. L0007012.

On Tuesday Anna Ostrowska discusses Abandoned Goods, a documentary film about ‘asylum art’, showing at the upcoming London Film Festival. The film has some strong connections to the Library. It was part funded with a Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award, and the Adamson Collection, founded on the work of artist Edward Adamson with patients at the Netherne psychiatric hospital in Surrey, has its home in the Wellcome Library.

On Wednesday Dr Richard Aspin delves into the digitised archive of Ticehurst House, a 19th century mental asylum, to trace the story of Herman Charles Merivale, a barrister who was first admitted to Ticehurst in 1875. Against medical advice, Merivale was sent home before he was fully recovered, and had to be readmitted.

By the early 20th century, the need for a ‘half-way house’ between the asylum and wider society was recognised in the convalescent homes discussed by Dr Stephen Soanes. On Thursday he shares his research into the patient case notes in the Mental After Care Association archive held by the Library.

Finally on Friday, World Mental Health Day, Emma Hancox explores the archive of MIND, a leading mental health charity in the Great Britain. The newly catalogued subject files reveal the range of advocacy and fundraising work done by the charity: from it’s early fundraising activities as the National Association for Mental Health for vital services such as social clubs, to monitoring treatments such as electroshock therapy on behalf of patients and the increasing use of community care from the 1940s, onwards.

So there you have it: a film about art therapy, digitised asylum case notes, research into convalescent care for the mentally ill, and charitable mental health advocacy in the 20th century, there should be something for everyone interested in the histories of mental health on the blog this week!

Author: Lalita Kaplish is Assistant Web Editor at the Wellcome Library.

Lalita Kaplish

Lalita Kaplish is Web Editor at the Wellcome Library. You can also find her on LinkedIn and Twitter @LalitaKaplish.

See more posts by this author

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Related Blog Posts