27 March 2019

27th March 1922 - UK National Council for Mental Hygiene created


On 27th March 1922 there was a letter by Courthauld Thomson announcing the set up of A National Council for Mental Hygiene. The USA had already had such a National Council for some years.

Mental Hygiene was a movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Keeping good mental health was seen as in important national issue and the council hoped to co-ordinate efforts, ensure medical students and teachers and parents learn about mental hygiene, in order to educate ordinary people to have good mental health. I am still not sure what they meant by mental hygiene  (the image above springs to my mind). I did find a poem from the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail which could explain...

Oh, if you'd be healthy minded.
You must feed your mind with care;
You must exercise it daily;
You must let it breathe pure air.

There are mental poisons round you,
Just as truly as there are
Germs endangering your body,
And more serious by far.

Quite your only chance against them
Lies in your resisting power;
If your mind and soul be healthy,
You are safe in danger's hour.

Start a course of mental hygiene,
If you've never done so yet:
Courage, patience, it will cost you;
But the price you'll ne'er regret.

Emphasize was put on giving the child a good start in life as psychologists traced back a lot of nervous problems in later life to problems in the upbringing and management of the child.

Thanks to The Mental Health History Timeline for the date and British Newspaper Archive for the poem.

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