Lesson Plan: Overview

Lesson Plan One: Picturing the Lunatic Asylum: A Brief History of Mental Health in South Carolina

Grade Level: 8th


Academic Standards

No academic standards available for this lesson plan.

Literacy Elements

A. Distinguish between past, present, and future time
Establish chronological order in constructing one’s own historical narratives
Create and interpret data on time lines
J. Demonstrate responsible citizenship within the school community and the local and national communities

Historical Background Notes

No historical background notes available for this lesson plan.


  Secondary Sources
  McCandless, Peter.  Moonlight, Magnolias and Madness:  Insanity in South Carolina from the Colonial Period to the Progressive Era. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
  ____. “Changing Minds, Opening Doors” South Carolina State Museum, 1995.
  Craft, Susan.  “History of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.”    South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Accessed 17 October 2003.
  PowerPoint with Computer or Overhead Projector (optional)
  Mental Health Student Packet

Lesson Plans

No lesson plan available.


Lesson One: Picturing the Lunatic Asylum: A Brief History of Mental Health in South Carolina lays the foundation for the unit.  It is in this lesson that the topic of mental health is introduced.  The lesson takes one class period.

1. Divide students into five groups.  Give each group one of the photographs used int eh powerpoint.  They are not to be told anything about the photographs.  Their task is to analyze the photos, make assumptions about the photos and produce five questions about the photos.  Each group will present their photo to the class along with their questions.
2. After this initial activity, it is time to impart a brief history of mental health in South Carolina.  Introduce the essential question of this unit: “What role should government have in treating the mentally ill?”  As you go over the history, you should keep these three themes in mind: 1) changes in treatment of the mentally ill, 2) changes in the role of government in caring for the mentally ill and 3) changes in funding for the treatment of the mentally ill.  Also, remember to pull in those photographs to your lecture.  (A PowerPoint presentation or prepared Overhead Notes work best in imparting this information.)
3. As a way for students to organize and process this information, have them create a triplicate timeline.  The students will create a three-part timeline that actually shows the changes in treatment, government role and funding for the mentally ill.
* Another option to this lesson is to invite a historian to provide the history of mental health in South Carolina.  In 1994-1995, The State Museum featured an exhibit on the history of mental health.  A very helpful booklet, “Opening Minds, Opening Doors” was developed for this exhibit.  This would be an excellent starting point in looking for related information and a guest speaker.
Back to "Too Large to be a Lunatic Asylum: South Carolina's Mental Health"

Teacher Reflections

No teacher reflections available for this lesson plan.

Student Assessment

No student assessment available for this lesson plan.

Examples of Students Work

No examples available for this lesson plan.


Provided by the Teaching American History in South Carolina Project