Athens Lunatic Asylum


As we continue our journey into the asylums of long ago, I feel compelled to speak a bit about the state of mental health care today. De-institutionalization was enacted by President Ronald Regan in the 1980s, releasing many patients who were functional yet still had the need for more assistance in the outside world. This assistance did not come easily and in some cases, never came at all. The conditions in many of these hospitals were awful and the treatments barbaric–and yet to many of the patients, it was far more frightening when they were turned out of the only home they ever knew. The system is far from being perfect, even in today’s modern age. The mentally ill continue to face much ignorance-based prejudice and state hospitals are still crowded and understaffed. We’ve changed the language to make it all sound better when the first step should have been to actually work to make it better.
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Sunland Mental Hospital: Tallahassee, FL


Sunland Mental Hospital: Tallahassee, FL

The complex that came to be known as┬áSunland (or Sunnyland to locals) Mental Hospital was originally the W.T. Edwards Tuberculosis Hospital when it opened in 1952. ┬áThe five story building was constructed with large banks of windows that were equipped with cranks so they could be opened easily to allow the fresh healing breezes to penetrate the patients’ rooms. Doctors tried numerous ineffectual cures for tuberculosis, many of which caused the suffering patients further misery before their inevitable demises. Eventually, after countless deaths had occurred at the facility, a vaccine was discovered to combat the killer and the hospital was needed no longer. The building’s next incarnation was as the infamous Sunland Mental Hospital.

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