Sixth form pupils explore a history of mental health at Bethlem Hospital

Sixth form pupils delved into an in-depth history of mental health last week on a trip to one of the UK’s oldest and most famous mental institutions.

A group of year 12 and 13 students visited Bethlem Hospital, London on Friday, to explore the various practices and prejudices associated with mental health from across the ages.

The institution, which was founded in 1330 as a hospital, was so infamous for its treatment of mental illness that it actually inspired the term well-known term “Bedlam”. It has since become one of the most highly regarded institutions in Europe under the stewardship of the NHS.

Throughout the day, students had the opportunity to explore artwork created by patients of Bethlem hospital, saw historic photographs of the institution, and read from a selection of letters written by staff and patients over the years.

The excursion took place as part of the school’s burgeoning Psychology curriculum and helped pupils to contextualise modern day approaches to mental health issues with older, more archaic – and often cruel – treatments.

The trip continued LOGS’ ongoing efforts to create a more open discussion about mental health after staff underwent mental health first aid training just a few months ago. In the junior school, pupils have also been tasked with ‘Happiness Homework’ designed to encourage their work-life balance and promote a positive outlook.

Head of Psychology, Lauren Burns, said: “It was fascinating to see how attitudes to mental health have changed over the years, from the stigma, prejudice and discrimination of the late Middle Ages to our current climate, which is fortunately much more understanding and receptive. Our students really came to terms with how stigma can affect treatment and recovery, and I think we all left feeling informed and inspired about how important it is to talk about mental health in a proactive way and to always remain compassionate.”