Touring Exhibition Highlights 100 years of Mental Health Care in Cumbria

A touring exhibition to shine a fresh light on mental health stigma will begin next week.

The free exhibition by Cumbria County Council aims to get Cumbria talking about mental health using recently released archives from Carlisle’s former mental institution the Garlands Hospital. The archives include maps, photos and patient records which date back as far as the 1860’s and provide a glimpse into the very early days of mental health care provision in Cumbria, the patients of the hospital and their treatments.

Members of the public will be able to see case notes of ‘inmates’ like Edward, William, Mary, Hannah and many more from the 1890’s.

Exhibition dates

There’s no need for people to book, just drop-in during opening hours at the venues below:

Carlisle Library – Monday 15 January – Friday 26 January
Carleton Clinic (Cafe), Carlisle – Monday 12 February – Friday 23 February
Carlisle’s Archive Centre, Lady Gillford’s House, Carlisle – Monday 26 February – Friday 9 March
Kendal Library – Monday 12 March – Friday 23 March
Workington Library – Monday 2 April – Friday 13 April
Penrith Library – Monday 16 April to Monday 30 April

Councillor Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Services, said:

“The exhibition has been brought together by the county council’s Archive Service, Public Health Service and health partners and we hope will encourage a variety of discussions on the subject of mental health.

“The exhibition and items are a real eye-opener, everyone can learn something from practitioners and professionals working in health, people who may have had relatives work at the Garlands and members of the public.”

Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said:

“Starting discussions and talking openly about mental health can help to break down stereotypes and take away stigma from something that can affect us all. This exhibition provides an opportunity to have a discussion about mental health in a really interesting and unusual way. What’s striking about the archive material is both how far we have moved in terms of language and how we discuss mental health, and yet how similar some of the current approaches to treatment are to those practiced so long ago.

“It’s this insight, and the parallels between past and present, that make this exhibition so interesting and so valuable. I hope this unique event will provide an exciting opportunity to explore how we approach and talk about mental health.”

Richard Thwaites, Clinical Director of the Mental Health service First Step at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“It’s not only fascinating to learn about and reflect on the way mental health problems have been dealt with historically in Cumbria, it’s actually essential. Looking back helps us to remember what has been largely forgotten in terms of the way people with mental health conditions were treated and it also reminds us how far we have come in terms of understanding and treatments. As a mental health professional I have found this incredibly interesting; most of the people who were admitted to this facility would not be now, and part of that is testament to how much we have begun to break down those barriers and started to speak about mental health, which is something that is also helping us continually improve treatments.”

More information can be found at http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/garlands .

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