Mental Health Day: How asylum patients were restrained

Disturbing pictures show some of the methods used to restrain the mentally ill, including jail-like cells, huge iron cuffs, and even a coffin with only enough room for the patient’s face to stick out of.

Another bizarre contraption is the Darwin-Coxe Machine, used in Austria in the early part of the 20th century, which was used to swing agitated patients until the calmed down.

The world may still have a long way to go when it comes to treating mental health, but these images lay bare how far we have already come in treating diseases of the mind.

The bizarre and horrifying contraptions used to restrain mental health patients in the 1900s when there were few other treatments available have been revealed. The device on the left is described as an ‘English coffin’ and was used in Austria around the start of the 20th century, while a mannequin is shown wearing an old-fashioned straight jacket, right

The device is a Darwin-Coxe Machine and is described in a hand-written note on the photograph as as device ‘in which insane were swung until quiet’. It was used at the Fools Tower in Vienna, Austria, in the early 1900s

The Narrenturm, also known as the Fool’s Tower, is seen in Austria around 1900. The tower was built in 1784 and is Europe’s oldest building specifically for housing the mentally ill, which was then seen as significant progress

An example of the kinds of restraints used on mental health patients at Fool’s Tower is seen left, while a jail cell housing a mentally ill women in the Virgin Islands in seen right, in 1941. With treatment still in its early stages, doctors were often left with no option but to simply confine those deemed too sick to live in society

Charlotte Amalie, who was a patient at the insane asylum on St Thomas Island, on the Virgin Islands, is seen in 1941. It was during this period that psychotherapy was being experimented with for the first time

Dozens of people were housed at the asylum on St Thomas Island, confined in cells like prisoners. While treatment was a long way from modern standards, it was catching up with the development of psychotherapy and ‘talking cures’

One patient wanders through the yard at the asylum on the Virgin Islands in 1941, while another looks on from the cells. It is not clear why some were allowed freedom, while others were locked away

A mentally ill man sits on a bench inside the asylum on the Virgin Islands in 1941

A patient of the asylum on the Virgin Islands in 1941. Very little information is available on how many people were housed here, what they were diagnosed with, and how they were treated

Harrowing snaps from the Virgin Islands show patients clinging to the iron bars that are keeping them imprisoned.

Recent figures released by the Mental Health Foundation have suggested that nearly half of adults in the UK believe that they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life.

Additionally, the World Health Organisation estimated that as of last year, 615million were suffering from anxiety or depression worldwide.

Mental health issues are an increasing problem in young people with suicide now the biggest killer of young people in the UK according to the Office of National Statistics, with 1,660 under 35s taking their own lives in 2015.

Research has also suggested that three-quarters of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment and the average waiting time for them to receive effective treatment is a staggering ten years.

World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health and is a day for education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

Welfare Island insane asylum is pictured in New York. Now known as Roosevelt Island, during its time the narrow strip of land in the East River has been used to house those suffering from both physical and mental ailments

Inside the Welfare Island insane asylum after it closed down, date unknown. The building opened in 1839 and at one point held 1,700 inmates, which was twice its designed capacity. It was left to ruin after the patients were transferred elsewhere around 1900, but was renovated in 2006 and now houses apartments

The insane asylum in Binghampton, New York, seen in 1890. The Gothic-inspired main building (pictured) was opened in 1864 as the first facility to treat alcoholism as a mental disorder. It was closed in 1993 over safety

The insane asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois, photographed in 1890. The building was completed in 1848 and served as a mental health facility until 2012, when it was shuttered

The Jacksonville facility was one of only three anywhere in America at the time, and was designed to transfer the burden of the mentally ill from their families to the state, which paid all of their costs

The Lunatic Asylum of Ohio was the first to be built anywhere in America when it was constructed in 1838. Its original director was Dr. William Awl, who claimed to have cured 100 per cent of patients. Many are buried in unmarked graves at the site

The State Insane Asylum, Stockton, California, in 1866. In 1888 a reporter for a local newspaper posed as a mentally insane man in order to write an undercover story about the facility. He reported that it was ‘better than he had expected’

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