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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 385-387

Mental hospitals and historical trauma: Stop blaming stigma, address the trauma

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sarah Ann Pinto
School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
New Zealand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_198_20

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Background: India is facing a mental health crisis but to change community stigma, we need to address historical trauma. This article discusses the issue of community stigma toward mental health care in India. Objective: The research aimed to trace the roots of community stigma toward mental health care facilities. Method: This study primarily used the archival method of data collection in constructing its narrative. Primary sources including colonial records, some vernacular newspapers, and a few Indian sources were analysed. The Maharashtra State Archives and the National Archives of India, New Delhi, served as the main repository of primary sources. Additionally, India Office Records at the British Library, London, provided further evidence for this research. Digitized copies of Annual Asylum Reports made available by the National Library of Scotland added to the evidence. The study also involved fieldwork at the Thana, Yerawada, and Ratnagiri mental hospitals in 2014. Results: Community stigma to the use of mental health care facilities is a historical problem. The establishment of lunatic asylums in India (as they were referred to in the 19th century, the nomenclature changed in 1921 to the term mental hospitals) caused disruption to local communities and families and left a legacy of trauma and fear. Conclusions: Acknowledging the trauma will disrupt patterns of coercion and cultures of abuse within mental health institutions and it will enable new narratives in mental health care.

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