What is it about?

Families were sometimes involved in the admission and discharge of patients from lunatic asylums. This article is based on patient case files from the Beechworth Asylum in northeast Victoria. Using the stories of actual patients, I show how families were involved with their admission and discharge and relate this to the present-day management of people with mental illness.

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Why is it important?

Mental illness is a major health issue affecting individuals and their family relationships. In Australia, sufferers are no longer confined to institutions for years but are treated in the community, with families expected to provide care. I examine whether we can learn anything from the ways families were involved in care 100 years ago for patients in Beechworth asylum, Australia.


There are many myths today about the asylums of 100 years ago. This article shows that people could be discharged after time in the asylum, and that the presence of families to provide care was an important factor in determining this. I believe such insights are important as we struggle to provide appropriate health care for individuals with mental illness in the 21st century.

Ms Eileen L Clark
Clarks Clerks

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Lessons from the past: Family involvement in patient admission and discharge, Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, 1900-1912, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, February 2017, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/inm.12323.
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