From the source of child psychiatry to mental health

The entrance opens into a huge central alley with numerous trees planted on each side. In contrast, the captivating building of the Compagnie des Indes, proudly standing, brings us back to the rich memories of psychiatry at reunions.
A closer look reveals that the old unused building of the first pediatric psychiatric structure has disappeared from the landscape.

From place to place, there is now a protective fence erected which makes it possible to secure the demolished area of ​​the site barriers, the fences still give a glimpse of the ruins of the first and oldest child psychiatric building built in 1968, completely destroyed.

The old pavilion was snatched for the intervention of backhoe loaders, rock breakers and other machines, which demolished this old abandoned building little by little and had not been used for years. It’s a great opportunity to fly back a little over half a century of history and get back to the past. In which, we are now in a dilemma to preserve the oral tradition of this place.

Telling stories to nurture memories

The history of this dilapidated building, then known as the “Children’s Pavilion”, carries an entire part of the history of child psychiatry, which really began 54 years ago in the cradle of the “St. Paul’s Mental Shelter.” Earlier, however, few and rare children suffering from various ailments saw themselves admitted to the “women’s quarters” of specialized hospitals.
After two years of working in this way (1966-1967) the first building for child and adolescent psychiatry was born in Reunion in 1968. Since then 54 years of history, resilience, commitment and subsequent innovation in child psychiatry in child psychiatry is a projection towards this new century and whose units remain regional.

The building, previously arranged much longer in length, was built on a tee, surrounded by walls of about 2.50 m height with two separate and similar spaces. A large dormitory with about twenty beds for boys on one side and for girls on the other. Two communal bathrooms, two large separate courtyards with still very high walls, two refineries, two courtyards, two old-fashioned washing rocks, mops, dishes for washing dishes, etc. However, with its opening in 1968, due to lack of allocated resources and insufficient staff, the separate operation for boys and girls was quickly abandoned through the introduction of co-education.

Designed with a strong main entrance door that is always double-locked. Doors open and close with a long sharp creek. These sounds of the lock key signaled the arrival of someone to us from a distance, even though the clock was fixed on the wall.

At the time, the design of this construction was made in a more protective and protective structure, even a certain “isolation” of the place.

Children’s lives were done inside the walls. It was very rare or even forbidden for children to go out. Family visits were almost non-existent.

Memories of a wonderful trip

The arrival of the first pediatric psychiatrist, Mr. Giles Vathiar, on the island in December 1977, would give another aspect and another idea of ​​the care of hospitalized children. Some professional activities will transform into therapeutic activity, especially with an outdoor opening, a more peaceful environment, with a multidisciplinary team, working with family, the institution has become a real foundation of child care … C It is precisely him, and later others. Pediatric psychiatrists, who built the first Children’s Day Hospital in 1978, have left an indelible mark on the entire history of child psychiatry.
After a decade of life for this pavilion, an exceptional donation was granted for the construction of a new one so that this “captive” infrastructure could be left in favor of a new structure. A place that responds more to the more modern concepts of child and adolescent psychiatry. However, a few years later, this same building was renovated for adult patients.

The newer, more efficient and modern infrastructure will see the light of day and will be unveiled in 1990 as the Lacaside Unit, still on the same site in St. Paul’s. It should be noted that the layout of the architectural space was stimulated by the strong involvement of the healthcare team, the first two child psychiatrists, Messrs. Gilles Vathier and Jean-Philippe Crewro, two executives at the time, Jean-Paul Bommel and Roger Annibal. .. Designed with more humanitarian inspiration, with separate rooms, furnished with bathrooms and toilets, a large courtyard lined with trees and grass, furnished kitchen, four-seater table, activity room, television and music area, office, medical room, Quiet house, etc.

Despite these improved housing conditions and changes in care, the party was more accustomed to this movement of disinvestment. Thanks to the arrival of many pediatric psychiatrists, psychologists and caregivers in this place after fifteen years of operation and above all an incredible development in the extra-hospital structure and outpatient care in four of the island.

However, following the work of Route des Tamarins, construction of a large viaduct forced the relocation of the lacrosse unit and all adult psychiatrists to Cambod in June 2005. Since that date, the regional child-adolescent structure still bears the name Vanilla Unit and is located at the EPSMR site in Cambay.

In short, with the diversified care of outpatient care for children and adolescents today, fortunately, the perception of mental health has evolved in this half-century of existence. Although psychiatry, in my opinion, still occupies a special place in the healthcare system, as in the collective imagination.

A way to get back to the memories of this wonderful trip and take a new look at EPSMR’s mental health.

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