Broadmoor Hospital was founded in 1863 in the village of Crownthorne, Berkshire. Contrary to popular belief, Broadmoor is not a prison, despite having housed several infamous offenders. Rather, it is considered the most well-known high-security psychiatric hospitals worldwide. Most of the patients suffer from severe mental illnesses varying from schizophrenia to psychotic and personality disorders.
Since 2016, as part of a ‘challenging stigma’ innovation, Broadmoor has given University of Westminster final year Psychology students exclusive access into the hospital, providing them with ‘non-textbook’ exposure and a glimpse of real life situations. The students were given a tour of the hospital’s facilities, including therapy rooms, a sports centre, crafts area and chapel and spoke to a range of multidisciplinary staff that deliver care in the hospital.
Throughout the day Psychology and Nurse Therapy staff provided the students with a deep insight into patient life, treatments and how they as psychologists cope with working in such a difficult yet rewarding setting. The visit, coordinated by Chantal Gautier, Kevin Morgan and Bryan Bonaparte, Senior Lecturers in Psychology, also gave students the opportunity to talk face-to-face with three patients suffering from mental health issues.
Sharing her thoughts after the visit, Westminster Psychology student Faryal Baig, said: "Broadmoor was honestly the most amazing and humbling experience of my life. I walked in so scared, confined and unsympathetic in my views but left feeling so human and open minded. It taught me compassion like I’ve never seen before. As psychology students, we all know and are taught about mental health by the books, but actually seeing everything in real life has shown me the very important context of it all. The trip exceeded my expectations, with the breath-taking views and beautiful history. I feel like I have completely changed as a person and I am sure this trip will influence me forever in terms of how I will practice in my professional career!”
For Broadmoor, the thanks are very much reciprocal, as a member of the hospital visit team voiced: “Without the Westminster Psychology staff, the visits wouldn’t go as well as they do and this clearly was the best visit all round. The foundation to this is your preparation and thoughtfulness about the hospital, what it stands for and who stays and works here. The students were clearly very compassionate, thoughtful and interested from start to finish.”
Find out more about the BSc Psychology courses offered at the University of Westminster:
Cover image: Senior Lecturers Chantal Gautier and Bryan Bonaparte with final year Psychology students