From their beginnings as the asylum attendants of the 19th century, mental health nurses have come a long way. This comprehensive volume is the first book in over twenty years to explore the history of mental health nursing, and during this period the landscape has transformed as the large institutions have been replaced by services in the community. McCrae and Nolan examine how the role of mental health nursing has evolved in a social and professional context, brought to life by an abundance of anecdotal accounts.
Moving from the early nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century, the book’s nine chronologically-ordered chapters follow the development from untrained attendants in the pauper lunatic asylums to the professionally-qualified nurses of the twentieth century, and, finally, consider the rundown and closure of the mental hospitals from nurses’ perspectives. Throughout, the argument is made that whilst the training, organisation and environment of mental health nursing has changed, the aim has remained essentially the same: to develop a therapeutic relationship with people in distress.
McCrae and Nolan look forward as well as back, and highlight significant messages for the future of mental health care. For mental health nursing to be meaningfully directed, we must first understand the place from which this field has developed. This scholarly but accessible book is aimed at anyone with an interest in mental health or social history, and will also act as a useful resource for policy-makers, managers and mental health workers.
Niall McCrae and Peter Nolan have considerable expertise in the history of mental health services. The ‘readability’ of their book is one of its most pleasing features and the authors have the skill of making the complex simple and fascinating. This book, while of interest to mental health nurses, should be required reading for all members of the multi-professional mental healthcare team. Entering the mental health professions today without knowing their histories would be like starting a journey without a map. This book is one of the best maps of the historical terrain that I have come across.
Hugh McKenna, Professor, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) University of Ulster, UK
At last, due credit to nurses who devoted their careers to the vulnerable in an impoverished yet caring environment: good work was done.
Jo Brand, comedian and former psychiatric nurse
A thought provoking and comprehensive history of mental health nursing based on a rich variety of sources, this is a detailed, far ranging and accessible overview. McCrae and Nolan have produced what should become the seminal work on the history of British mental health nursing.
Claire Chatterton, Chair, RCN History of Nursing Society, UK
Preface 1. The Pauper Palace and its Servants 2. Professionalisation, or Organised Labour 3. Shocks to the System 4. Interregnum 5. A New Dawn 6. Time is Called 7. Irish Days, Mauritian Nights 8. Holding the Fort 9. End of the Asylum 10. Appendix