The Change Minds team ran two popular workshops at this conference, which was aimed at social and mental health professionals, service users, carers and volunteers.
We invited attendees to study the case records of patients in Norfolk County Asylum in 1882/83. Then we asked them to think about the person they encountered there.
Here are some questions people wanted to ask.
- What brought you here? What is your family history? What was your life before coming in?
- Did you feel unhappy or disconnected from family prior to admission?
- Have you felt like this before? Is this something that has happened before? Do you feel better in yourself?
- What does your wife say about the build-up to admission? Are you a man who is just enjoying his spirituality?
- What happened while you were in the asylum? Was the regime comfortable for you?
- What was your experience? How did it benefit you? Did you feel it was helpful? How?
- Was it appropriate for your wants and needs? Or was it imposed?
- Were people kind to you? Did your family visit you?
- What you feel your admission did – it says you “recovered”? What was the food like?
- What treatment did you have for your leg? Was your leg affecting your mental health? Did your husband visit?
- Who knows you were in the hospital? Do you have a problem with drink? Are you still grieving?
- Where is your child? Do you have family support?
- What would you recommend in the future for others with similar circumstances?
What does this case record make you think?
- Where is the treatment? What is proof for incarceration?
- One person’s sign off. Now sectioning involves clinicians, patient and board – that is fairly new.
- We could teach people to cook, grow their own vegetables, and get other patients involved.
- A creative response would thread the story together – family, friends, work, church, community.
- The historical context – this was before emancipation for women. Power dynamics.