Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual campaign aiming to combat stigma and promote understanding of mental health running from 13th to 19th May. At the History Faculty Library, we have put together a display on the history of mental health, featuring books that shed light on the struggles individuals have faced with their mental and behavioural health and the evolution of attitudes towards mental illness throughout history. It also includes works on the history of emotions, exploring how humans have expressed and understood their complex feelings over time.

As well as physical books, we also have a variety of e-books and e-journals which explore these issues. When signed into SOLO with your ‘Single Sign On’, the following e-resources will be available for Oxford University Members—click on the covers below to access their SOLO records.

 The Oxford handbook of the history of psychology global perspectives Madness in civilization by Andrew Scull  Madness cracked by Mick Power Voices in the history of madness : personal and professional perspectives on mental health and illness From Melancholia to Depression : Disordered Mood in Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry by Asa Jansson Anxiety : A Philosophical History by Bettina Bergo The Routledge history of madness and mental health Our minds, our selves : a brief history of psychology by Keith Oatley

Many more e-resources and physical books can be found on SOLO when searching “Mental illness — History“. Check out the Bodleian mental illness history LibGuide for further resources (including specific resources on depression and PTSD).

Please follow these links for information about Bodleian Libraries Wellbeing Sessions and the Student Welfare and Wellbeing webpages!

Trial until 12 October: Records of Bethlem Royal Hospital 1559-1932

Oxford researchers are invited to trial Records of Bethlem Royal Hospital 1559-1932. This resource is useful for the study of mental health care throughout the ages. It is relevant for the study of:

  • History of mental health, madness, lunacy, etc.
  • History oif mental health services and treatment
  • Lunacy Reform & legislative history
  • Social & family history
  • Military history (esp. First World War)
  • History of crime
Colour print of the Bethlem Royal Hospital building. Superimposed text reads: Mental health care throughout the ages This record collection provides extraordinary levels of detail about patients of the Bethlem Royal Hospital dating as far back as the 17th century, providing real insight into what life was like in this infamous institution.

© Images reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Bethlem Museum of the Mind; © Findmypast Ltd.

Bethlem Royal Hospital is a psychiatric facility in London. It was established as a priory of the Order of St Mary of Bethlehem in 1247, before beginning to care for mentally ill patients sometime in the 14th century. Often referred to colloquially as ‘Bedlam’—and generally accepted to be the origin of the very same noun—past incarnations of the institution were infamous for their questionable diagnosis of mental illness and poor treatment of patients.

This collection contains four centuries’ and 130,000 images’ worth of records from Bethlem. The records are diverse in both form and subject matter. They include:

  • Admission, Discharge, and Death Registers, 1683-1919
  • Female Patient Casebooks, 1778-1913
  • Male Patient Casebooks, 1793-1913
  • Voluntary and Curable Patient Casebooks, 1816-1913
  • Criminal and Incurable Patient Admission Registers and Casebooks, 1778-1864
  • Patient Casebooks from the First World War, 1914-1919
  • Management of Bethlem Royal Hospital, 1559-1932 (incl. staff salary books, minutes of the Court of Governors)

All handwritten items have been fully transcribed.

Screenshot from CB-004: Female Patient Casebooks, 1793-1816, p66: 'Anne Fletcher, admitted June 15 1805.'

© Images reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Bethlem Museum of the Mind; © Findmypast Ltd.

Scholars and students alike will find that, together, the records provide a unique insight into the evolution of so-called lunacy laws – from an early reliance on control of the mentally ill through coercion and restraint to the later emergence of doctrines of self-discipline and moral management.

The trial ends on 12 October 2023. Please email feedback to