Until Saturday 2 April, Parnassia Group and The Hague Municipal Archives will present an exhibition about the history of mental health care in The Hague in the Atrium.

Care since the Middle Ages
In the Antoniuskapel at the Slijkeinde, residents of The Hague can already go for care as early as the 16th century. The Crepelen are a religious self-help group with and for disabled and non-disabled people. They take care of the sick poor with warmth, food and care. The chapel soon becomes too small, so the Crepelen build a ‘sieckhuys’ next to it with the help of donations. The Middle Ages give generously and have a tolerant attitude towards the insane. No one is locked up just like that, unless he or she poses a danger to society or himself. When he or she is calm again, they let him or her go.

Anthony Abbot
The exhibition is built around a 17th-century statue of Antonius Abbot who lived in Egypt from 251 to 356. Anthony Abbot is the patron saint of the insane and people suffering from contagious diseases. There is even a disease named after him; Anthony’s fire, a non-contagious disease caused by eating moldy rye bread.

Plague outbreaks
In the 16th and 17th centuries the Antonius Chapel became too small. It was demolished in 1579 and a new Pest and Dolhuys was built on the same spot. Various plague outbreaks make many victims. It is known that hygiene can prevent contamination. That is why the streets and canals are remarkably clean during plague outbreaks. The magistrate formulates strict rules to prevent the plague. Violation will result in a hefty fine.

18th century – desired behavior
In the 18th century there were no more victims of the plague, so that the house at Slijkeinde only took in people with undesirable behaviour. These are not only insane, but also people who do not know how to behave according to the mores of society. In 1795 the French came to The Hague. The regents in the Dolhuys are replaced by liberal regents. They provide a Catholic chapel in the house.

From Improvement House to Old Rosenburg
Between 1825 and 1844 the house on the Slijkeinde bears the name Improvement House. After that it is called the ‘Medical asylum for the insane’ . Undesirable behavior is seen as a disease that can be cured. In 1895 the regents bought the Landhuis Oud-Rosenburg. In the years that followed, they built large pavilions on the rural site in Loosduinen with more and more patients, until they finally left the house at Slijkeinde in 1912.

Bloemendaal and the Ramaer Clinic
The Bloemendaal foundation established itself in 1892 on the Monsterseweg. This is the second hospital of the Association of Christian Care of the Insane in the Netherlands. In 1926 the Ramaerkliniek (part of the Rosenburg foundation) is opened. Nervous patients can be admitted here without judicial authorization for observation and treatment according to the latest methods.

The second World War
Rosenburg and Bloemendaal are examples of good mental health care, until the Second World War puts a cruel end to this with the deportation of 251 Jewish patients and people in hiding to Sobibor and Auschwitz. Only 22 people are known to have survived the war.

Mental health care after the war
After the war, Rosenburg and Bloemendaal resumed care and treatment. In the 1950s and 1960s, new treatments were announced, such as extensive use of medicines. In the 1970s, “antipsychiatry” emerged: a protest against freedom-limiting therapies and drugs. Client movements are emerging that stand up for participation in treatments and policy. The Hague mental health care system has client councils. Nowadays, clients’ families are also involved in the treatment and family councils contribute ideas about policy.

Mental health care in 2022
Parnassia Groep grows along with social insights. She emphasizes the dignity and inclusion of the client. There is restorative care in the district. Clients are guided towards work and participation in society. Parnassia-Groep works together with municipalities, other care providers and social organisations. Family contributes to the client’s recovery, who is treated as briefly as possible to prevent/reduce psychological and/or addiction problems.

Exhibition The history of mental health care in The Hague
The exhibition The history of mental health care in The Hague can be found in the Atrium The Hague at the entrance of the Study Room of the Hague Municipal Archives.
Exhibition composition: Corry van Straten author of the book ‘Van Kapel tot Dolhuys Haagse Geesteszorg from the Middle Ages to 1700’, in collaboration with Mary van Putten.

For more information, go to www.parnassia.nl and www.haagsgemeentearchief.nl.