New project: the Amsterdam public mental health care in the 20th century

29 January 2014

Dr. Gemma Blok, assistant professor in Dutch history, has been invited to write a new book on the history of the Amsterdam public mental health care in the 20th century.

In 1919, the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service (GG & GD), established a special unit for citizens originally labelled as 'the insane and the socially unfit’. In the course of the twentieth century, public nuisance problems in the city stimulated a range of new public health care initiatives. The medicalization of unwanted behaviour went hand in hand with the empowerment of vulnerable citizens.

In the project, financed by the GGD Amsterdam, Blok will focus on the involvement of the Municipal Health Service with troublesome psychiatric patients and addicts, known as ‘worrying care-avoiders’.

Assisted by Joppe Schaaper, research master student in history, Blok will hightlight four key moments in the history of the public mental health care in Amsterdam: psychiatrist Arie Querido and his pioneering work in social psychiatry in the 1930s; the emergence of a youth psychiatry department in 1946 against the background of concerns about 'youthful psychopaths'; the arrival of the first mobile methadone clinic in 1979; and the development of Nuisance and Care Hotlines in the 1990s. 



Published by  ACUH