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On Naming Mental Health: The Case of Woodbridge

How appropriate is it to name a mental hospital after a royalty?
Should the word “mental” even appear in the name of the hospital?

These were some of the considerations when the Acting Medical Superintendent suggested in 1950 that the Mental Hospital in Singapore change its name to keep up with the times: in more advanced countries the use of the words "Mental Hospital and Lunatic Asylum" was falling out of favour. 1

A series of letters in our records gives an insight into the thinking on mental health. Suggestions for the new name included one for naming the hospital after royalty. One suggested royal was George III who was the reigning monarch when Raffles founded Singapore because he “was mad anyway”.2

So how did Singapore’s mental hospital come to be named Woodbridge?

1 Ministry of Health/Woodbridge Hospital, File Reference WH68/58, “Change of Name of Mental Hospital Singapore to Woodbridge Hospital”, Microfilm No. MH244

2 Ibid.