Epidemic encephalitis and the intersection of general and mental health service provision in Sheffield, 1917–1951

Year of award: 2018


  • Catherine McAllister

    University of Sheffield

Project summary

Parity of esteem between mental and physical health is an issue which dominates current political manifestos, but similar issues have been a part of health policy in Britain for more than a century.

By focusing on a historical case study of the outbreak of epidemic encephalitis in Sheffield during the 1920s and 1930s, I will provide historical context for the parity of esteem agenda. Epidemic encephalitis was characterised by physical and mental symptoms and straddled the intellectual divide between these medical approaches. In focusing on how epidemic encephalitis was studied and treated by Arthur Hall from the University of Sheffield and his contemporaries, this thesis will demonstrate that despite legislative and political commitments at the time, mental and general health services remained resolutely separate.

My findings will shed light on how and why parity of esteem fails in practice, offering insights for policy makers, medical practitioners and the wider public.