Brandon Mental Health Centre

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Brandon Mental Health Centre

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The Brandon School of Nursing was established in 1921 at the Brandon Hospital for Mental Diseases (hereafter B.H.M.D.). It was first alluded to in 1913 when the Superintendent of the B.H.M.D., J.J. McFadden, recommended it as a means of enhancing the reputation of the hospital. In 1919, the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene released a highly critical report on the state of custodial institutions for the mentally ill in Canada that paved the way for reforms such as the establishment of psychiatric nursing schools. In 1920, the new superintendent, Dr. Charles A. Baragar, in his first annual report, again mentioned the need for trained nurses and instructional facilities in which to train them. Lectures began at B.H.M.D. in October of 1920 for attendants and nurses, but they were not compulsory and were not part of a formal program of studies. This was followed in 1921 with the establishment of the School of Nursing through which courses were offered beginning in 1922. The program consisted of a two year Mental Nurses Diploma Course, and a shorter "demonstrative" course that was required for all employees of the B.H.M.D. who elected not to enroll in the diploma course. The Class of 1923 was the first class of graduates from the Brandon School of Nursing. They were, by all accounts, the first graduates in all of Western Canada with a diploma in Mental Nursing. In 1924, wages at the B.H.M.D. were adjusted to take into account the completion of formal training in psychiatric nursing. In 1925, a short lived affiliation with the St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg, that ended in 1927, was begun. That year also saw the beginning of a graduate studies course. In 1930, the diploma course grew to a three year program. In 1986, as many aspects of the B.H.M.D. - now referred to as the B.M.H.C. (Brandon Mental Health Center) - were phased out in favor of community based care, the B.M.H.C. School of Nursing was incorporated into Brandon University's School of Nursing, which began to offer a 2 year Post-Diploma Degree in Nursing and Mental Health.

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