Christianity’s Contributions: Hospitals opened (Part 3)

The Christian Church made contributions to society that we may not even realize.  This month the focus is upon the health care contributions to the world.  Following the example of Jesus and the apostles, the Early Church sought to heal those who were sick. As we have seen, hospitals were first opened due to the Church.  However, aid to those with physical diseases wasn’t the only help that the Church offered; those afflicted with mental illnesses were ministered to as well.

The first institution was opened in 321 AD.  Later, monasteries housed the institution itself.  Sadly, those with mental illness were not always cared for in a kind way.  Later, the treatment became inhumane.  People were chained or physically punished with the belief that through harsh treatment of the body the mind could be made well.

Thankfully, the Church also corrected their past actions.  Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) was prominent in the improvement of handling those with disturbances.  She advocated for the humane treatment of the mentally ill both in America and Europe.  The Quakers made a hospital in Philadelphia in 1709, and later opened a separate building for the insane in 1841.  With the leadership of Dix and the Quakers, mental health facilities became better in terms of the care given to those with psychological disturbances.

Whether it was treatment for the body or mind, Christians were trying to heal as Jesus directed them.  The blog series will conclude with how training was started to help those who ministered to others in the physical and mental realms.

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