Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Island, Virgin Islands. An inmate of the insane asylum, 1941. Public Domain /

By Ben Wheeler

A SERIES of historic images of insane asylums and their inmates from around the world have resurfaced on World Mental Health Day.

The chilling photographs shed light on ‘treatments’ and conditions mental patients the world over have been subjected to.

English coffin for confining insane, Fool Tower, Vienna, 1900. Public Domain /

Harrowing snaps from the Virgin Islands show patients clinging to the iron bars that are keeping them imprisoned, whilst others from Vienna, Austria reveal equipment such as a coffin for confining the insane and a restraining belt and handcuffs.

Whilst stigmas and misunderstandings about mental health are still prevalent today and with growing concerns over a mental health crisis in the NHS, the images suggest progress has been made in how mental health is dealt with.

Welfare Island, Insane Asylum, New York County, NY. Public Domain /

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, 615-million suffer from anxiety or depression worldwide.

Belt and handcuffs on insane person, “Fools Tower”, Vienna, 1900. Public Domain /

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.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Island, Virgin Islands. Public Domain /

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.

This year’s theme is mental health in the workplace.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Island, Virgin Islands. The women’s section of the insane asylum at the hospital, 1941. Public Domain /