Early asylums are established in Baghdad, Iraq, for people with ‘mental distress’.
The Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem in London is confiscated by Edward III and used for ‘lunatics’. It is the first known psychiatric hospital in Europe. The conditions are appalling.
Symptoms of mental illness are linked to witchcraft. Trephination is used as treatment for madness. A hole was drilled into the skull as it was believed this would let out evil spirits.
The Madhouses Act regulates private ‘madhouses’ and requires them to be licenced and inspected.
The York Retreat is founded by William Tuke. Following the treatment and death of Hannah Mills, the Quaker community developed the retreat as a response to the harsh conditions of asylums. Tuke pioneered humane treatment of the mentally ill, with moral treatment based on compassion, self-control, and respect. The building was designed to look like a house instead of a prison.
The first West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum opens in Wakefield. Christopher Taylor is the first patient admitted to Wakefield Asylum. He previously worked as a milliner, also known as a hatter. Mercury was used in the production of hats, which often poisoned hatters and caused neurological damage. This is the origin of the phrase ‘mad as a hatter’.
Poor Law Amendment Act changes the support for the poor by making relief available only to those in the workhouse. Workhouse conditions were intended to deter anyone from entering unless they were desperate. Many people who were struggling with their mental health and could not be cared for at home ended up in workhouses.
The Lunacy Act and the County Asylums Act change the face of mental health law forever. For the first time people with mental illness receive the status of ‘patient’. The law also requires every asylum to employ a doctor.
The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in Menston opens. Initially it takes patients from Wadsley Asylum, which is overcrowded. It has its own library, surgery, butchers, bakery, upholsterers, cobblers, farm, laundry, tailors and even a small railway system.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith, Winston Churchill (then Home Secretary) favours confinement, segregation and sterilisation of ‘the feeble minded’.
The outbreak of the First World War puts enormous pressure on medical
facilities everywhere. Asylums in Yorkshire begin accepting ‘service
patients’ who are suffering from shell shock.
The Mental Treatment Act recommends the use of out-patient clinics and officially replaces the term ‘asylum’ with ‘mental hospital’.
World War Two puts further pressure on the world’s medical capacity and increases stress and trauma on people. In Nazi controlled Europe the Aktion T4 programme authorises the killing of people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses.
The new National Health Service (NHS) makes healthcare, including mental healthcare, free at the point of delivery.
The Mental Health Act defines ‘mental disorder’ for the first time and distinguishes it from learning disabilities. It also seeks to deinstitutionalise patients and develop community care.
Bill from Leeds visits his GP as he suspects he is gay. The doctor arranges aversion therapy treatment for him at Lancaster Moor Hospital. He is shown slides of men whilst being given an electric shock. Bill gives up after a few weeks because he thinks it is ‘a total waste of time’. He moves back to Leeds and joins the Gay Liberation movement. Bill’s story was shared as part of the West Yorkshire Queer Stories project.
Community Links is established in Leeds. Initially it is a project to support tenants of homeless hostels who feel unable to cope in the wider community. It becomes a charity and later expands its role to become an award winning non-profit provider of mental health and wellbeing services in Yorkshire and the Humber.
The National Service Framework for Mental Health is launched. It describes the standards and guidelines for mental healthcare for the next ten years.
Work begins to convert the High Royds Hospital buildings into apartments and houses.
The Equality Act protects people from discrimination.
Emergency changes are made to the Mental Health Act as a response to Coronavirus emergency. These temporarily affect the amount of time a patient can be remanded in hospital for, and the number of doctors required to detain a patient.