During 2020-21 a team of researchers pulled together an incredible online exhibition featuring real peoples’ stories of mental health treatment at the Portsmouth Borough Lunatic Asylum, later St James Hospital, now closed. Inspired by 100 year old medical records from the Portsmouth History Centre, and the stories of the people who spent time at the hospital, we have developed a series of short films to create connections with this hidden social history.
The first in our series, is the story of Emily. Emily’s husband left to fight in the war, a series of events leads to her admission to the Portsmouth Asylum. Join us for a night of heritage and connect with the rich history of real peoples' lives. Connecting with history through creative inspired stories that will open your heart, your mind and your knowledge to new experiences and understanding.
Our aims for this work is to reflect and look back on the developments in mental health care since World War 1. We know that looking back helps us to keep looking forward. We have come a long way in tackling stigma, in good quality, respectful treatment and community understanding about mental ill health, but we still have further to go. This project aims to contribute to the social understanding of mental ill health, to connect people with history that is personalised and relatable, and to enhance community cohesion through creative arts.
We started this research project in 2020 with a group of volunteers who all had their own individual connections to the Portsmouth area and a varied interest into the history of local mental health care. The stories uncovered are about patients, hospital staff, the differences between private and pauper treatment and the changing attitudes towards mental health care during WW1. We also researched pivotal moments such as when Portsmouth Mental Hospital was requisitioned by the American Armed Forces and how this impacted patients and the wider community. With this project, the Good Mental Health Cooperative and volunteer research group hoped to explore the stories of mental anguish suffered by so many men and women during the Great War and the wide reaching psychological effects of living through such a challenging time in history.
"Hundred Years of Mental Health in Hampshire" Online Exhibition
Memories of people working or staying at Knowle & St.James’ Psychiatric Hospitals, photos, poetry and Images based on these memories, as well as a pictorial timeline of major developments in mental health care over 10 decades£5.00
Heritage Gift Pack
A unique set of postcards inspired by Knowle & St. James Psychiatric Hospitals, and a St James Journal.
UK Postage only£15.00
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