Concluding their current film series on Mental Health, Trauma and Rehabilitation, the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will be showing our documentary about Croydon’s Warlingham Park Hospital. This is only the third public screening of the film, and the first in central London. The session will begin at 12.45pm on Wednesday 12 December in the John Snow Lecture Theatre, in LSHTM’s Keppel Street building. For further details, visit the Centre for History in Public Health website.
This is your Hospital combines archive footage with contemporary interviews to explore healthcare and experiences in Warlingham Park Hospital in the 1940s and 1950s, and was made as part of an online education resource drawing on some of the same material. We are keen to expand this resource by featuring the memories of those who previously lived or worked at Warlingham Park, and are currently offering those who share their thoughts on the website a free booklet on the history of the hospital. Please submit your stories here.
The documentary uses several clips from the BBC’s 1957 documentary The Hurt Mind, and an episode of this will be screened following. This five-part series included an episode on Physical Treatments, which includes demonstrations of treatments that have often been abandoned or modified in subsequent decades, including electroconvulsive therapy and an explanation of frontal leucotomy, as well as a session of ether abreaction. The last was a treatment in which a patient was given a drug (in this case ether), and subsequently encouraged to talk about difficult experiences, with the idea that the drug might break down mental barriers.
According to the British Medical Journal, who attempted to measure the impact of the documentary in changing public attitudes towards mental illness, approximately 15% of the adult population of the UK watched each episode. The authors of the BMJ article, G.M. Carstairs and J.K. Wing from the Institute of Psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, were given access to questionnaires and letters gathered by the BBC to analyse the impact of the series. These letters included requests for advice, complaints about doctors or hospital experiences, and advice on improving mental health services and reducing stigma. A half-century on, the article makes for fascinating reading, and can be downloaded here.