Monday, 26 August 2013

Old Buckenham Women's Institute

Mental health through the ages

Are we all mad? That is the question that Alison Hannah asked when she came to talk to Old Buckenham WI about the history of mental care from the thirteenth century to the present day. The definition of madness has always been a problem. Possession of evil spirits, witchcraft, immoral behaviour, have all been named as causes of insanity.
Eight hundred years ago care was provided by monasteries, then lunatic asylums of varying quality and cruelty were introduced. Bedlam, an asylum in London, was a day out for people wishing to view the inmates and their madness.
Slowly attitudes changed with the work of Freud, the Quakers and the introduction of new drugs. Unfortunately mental health is still the poor relation in the NHS with funding desperately needed to fund adequate provision.
Norfolk had its first hospital in Bethal Street Norwich, privately funded. Later an asylum was built at Thorpe, now closed. Lastly Hellesdon was built and remains a functioning hospital today. Much has changed from the manacles and brutality of earlier asylums and modern units such as the ones at the Julian Hospital in Norwich are leading the way with their Dementia Intensive Care Unit and Training Academy.
After refreshments, members were reminded that September would be a busy month with the WI cake stall at the Village Fete, the Produce and Handicraft Show on Sunday 8 September and two WI meetings.






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