Mental Health in Victorian Britain

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK so we’ve got a special episode exploring the surprising way Victorians approached mental health treatment in the 19th century. Oral historian Stella Man from the Glenside Hospital Museum in Bristol tells Dan how the Victorians get a bad rap but in truth, they took a very forward thinking occupational approach. With no real medicines to prescribe at that time, psychiatric institutions like Glenside turned to exercise, nature, rest and finding meaningful activities and work for patients to do. 50% of patients who were admitted were able to leave the institution after treatment.

Stella tells the stories of several patients that spent time at Glenside and how the approach to mental health treatment in Britain changed for the worse over the 20th century and is now returning to the same ideas prescribed by the Victorians.

You can find out more information or visit Glenside Hospital Museum here: Glenside Hospital Museum

If you are struggling with your mental health you can find advice and resources here:

Produced by Mariana Des Forges

Mixed and Mastered by Dougal Patmore

If you'd like to learn more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad-free podcasts and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today! To download the History Hit app please go to the Android or Apple store.

See for privacy and opt-out information.