Brief History of Mental Illness

Mental Illness

Mental illness is a huge issue in the world, especially in the UK and yet it is still one of the most hidden and often the most misunderstood. With one in four people suffering from a mental illness through the course of each year, it is a growing issue.
            The history of mental illness in the UK is incredibly interesting and worth taking into account before any project involving the topic. In the 18th and early 19th century those who suffered from mental illnesses were often shunned from society and left to cope with their illnesses alone and without any assistance, unless they were considered to be dangerous in which case they would be locked up and often restrained. Asylums began to be built in the United Kingdom when King George III raised awareness for the issue. Despite the Hospital of St Mary of Bethlem in London, informally and controversially known as Bedlam, providing care from 1403 it wasn’t until the 18th century that hospital facilities were provided for the patients. Although despite the opening of a large number of asylums across the united kingdom it was by no means the norm for ill individuals to be in them, a majority were cared for by their own families and were often referred to as idiots, imbeciles and feeble minded, they tended to be put in workhouses or prisons rather than the asylums.
            When the mind became recognised as a function of the brain, doctors and some of the public began to accept that mental illness was a disease and therefore needed to be dealt with by the medically trained. In the 20th century the world of mental illness treatment saw further advances especially where veterans returning from World War II were concerned.
            What is interesting is looking at the reactions to people with mental illnesses in the 18th and 19th century, where their illnesses were considered serious enough for the to be segregated from society, however many people now are expected to remain living day to day lives and to just deal with the issues they are facing, it seems that as we have advanced socially and technologically people begin to be expected to be more rigid and less emotional.


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