Story: Mental health services

Women's reception house, Seacliff, around 1910

Women's reception house, Seacliff, around 1910

The imposing appearance and stigma of large Victorian-era and second-generation asylums made many potential patients reluctant to seek help there. As a result, smaller and more welcoming buildings were provided, out of sight of the main buildings, where new patients could be admitted. The double-gabled, single-storey building on the right is the women's reception house at Seacliff hospital near Dunedin. Seacliff's superintendent, Frederic Truby King, argued that entire mental hospitals should be designed on the basis of these small buildings for specific purposes. This eventually resulted in the 'villa' design, introduced around the country in the 20th century.

Using this item

Private collection, Warwick Brunton

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Warwick Brunton, 'Mental health services - Mental hospitals, 1910s to 1930s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 3 October 2023)

Story by Warwick Brunton, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 5 May 2022