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Psychiatric Institutions of the Past

Straightjacket (pre-1940)

Image: Straightjacket (pre-1940)

Source: Museum Victoria

Large asylums were established for the collective institutionalisation of the mentally ill in Europe in the 1700s. This included the notorious Bedlam in London, where conditions and treatment of patients were considered severe and brutal.

Psychiatric institutions were first established in Australia in the mid 1800s. Many patients were institutionalised for life. They experienced a variety of illnesses including post-natal depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, bipolar disorder and dementia.

The 'asylums' were under-resourced, and conditions were crammed and spartan.

With the advent of psychotropic drug treatment and welfare cost-cutting, most large 'asylums' were closed down in the 1980s.

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