Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Closing the Asylum

Nov 21, 2016

Lots of years ago I wrote my MA thesis on the history of institutions for the mentally ill in Maritime Canada. At the time the story of the asylum had produced several studies in countries like the UK and US but not very much work had been done here in Canada. I hoped that one day I would return to the subject myself but not every enthusiasm becomes a book and this one didn't.

So I am intrigued by a new online project, "After the Asylum." According to a post on activehistory.ca, this new website looks at the process of deinstitutionalization which took place beginning in the 1950s. Deinstitutionalization refers to the shift in mental health care from the hospital to the community by which tens of thousands of beds in psychiatric facilities were closed as the focus of care was supposed to shift to smaller, localized care facilities. Unhappily this often meant no facilities at all.

Anyway, "After the Asylum" looks in detail at this critical chapter in the history of mental health care in this country.