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Production of mental distress in prison

Academic Partners: Hilary Marland, Rachel Bennett and Margaret Charleroy

Hilary Marland is a Professor in the Department of History working in the Centre for the History of Medicine. She specialises in the social history of medicine and leads the Warwick part of a multi institution five year project, Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland 1850-2000.

Dr Rachel Bennett is part of the Warwick team, examining women, health care and maternity in English and Irish prisons and addressing broad questions surrounding access and entitlement to medical care within the prison from the female perspective.

Dr Margaret Charleroy was part of the Warwick team, examining the management of prisoner’s health and disease, and prison diets in institutions shaped by imperatives to punish, control, and rehabilitate as well as efforts to improve conditions and prisoner’s wellbeing.

Flo Swann is Public Engagement Officer on the project. Aside from participating in several of the public engagement projects, she has also been largely responsible for their coordination and curation.

Associate Artists: Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation); Fuel; Talking Birds Theatre Company

Rideout develop innovative, arts-based approaches to working with prisoners and staff within prisons and other secure and sensitive institutions and organisations. Together with Professor Hilary Marland and Dr Margaret Charleroy, and HMP Hewell, Rideout created Past Time: 12 Days of Drama, History, Food.

Fuel produces adventurous, playful, and significant work across and beyond art forms by collaborating with outstanding artists with fresh perspectives and approaches. Together with Professor Hilary Marland and Dr Rachel Bennett, Fuel have created the audio work Lock Her Up.

Talking Birds Theatre Company is a Coventry-based theatre company producing work with a distinctive blend of humour, music, and visual flair. Together with Professor Hilary Marland, and her academic collaborator Associate Professor Catherine Cox (UCD), Talking Birds created Disorder Contained: A Theatrical Examination of Madness, Prison and Solitary Confinement.
How is mental distressed produced in prison? How does that compound the loss, alienation and waste of the prison system more broadly?

Past Time
Past Time is a project aimed at engaging some of the most mentally vulnerable prisoners in an innovative education programme using cookery, drama, and history to explore food in prisons past and present. You are invited to contemplate a display about the project during Warwick Tate Exchange week.

Lock Her Up
Fuel selected three female artists to respond to historical materials around mental health and women in prison, working with sound designer Gareth Fry using sound as their medium. The resulting ten-minute audio pieces are installed at Tate Exchange.
Rachel Mars
Sabrina Mahfouz
Paula Varjack

Disorder Contained
Concerns about the detrimental impact of the prison system on the mental health of inmates are mounting, putting pressure on prison staff, prompting governmental enquiries, and featuring persistently in the agendas of prison reform organisations. But this isn’t today – this is the 1850s.

Using contemporaneous documents, including prisoners’ memoirs, doctors’ casebooks, and the reflections of prison staff, Disorder Contained combined music, song, wit and compassion to explore the rationale behind this enduring and cruel system.


Image courtesy of the Howard League Archives held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick

Production of Mental Distress in Prison Events
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