The Tuke Institute is named in honour of William Tuke (1732-1822), a leading Quaker philanthropist and merchant who reformed radically the medical treatment of ill people. Tuke first became involved in assessing how medicine was practised when a fellow Quaker with mental illness died in the York Asylum, England. He was appalled by the inhumane medical practice at the hospital, including the fact that people were chained to the wall at the neck and around the body, without proper food or sanitation. In the spring of 1792, Tuke appealed to the (Quaker) Society of Friends to make a difference and sufficient funds were raised to be able to open the York Retreat in 1796, where Tuke pioneered new methods of treatment based on the respectful treatment of ill people, with mental and social treatment as an essential part of practice.
The approach that William Tuke developed came to form one of the main foundations of biopsychosocial medicine. While his special interest was mental illness, scientific advances during the last century have shown unequivocally the interdependence of physical, mental, and social issues in causing and treating all illness and has underlined the importance of the biopsychosocial model to all modern medical practice. William Tuke’s respect and generosity in the treatment of ill people reflect spiritual values that permeate and guide the work of the Tuke Institute.The Tuke Institute has a clear purpose that is embodied in its statements of Mission, Aims, and Vision. Additionally, its purpose is indicated on the pages describing its Values and Rationale. Please click on the menus just above to see further.