What happens when an archive receives a freedom of information request from the BBC concerning a sensitive subject such as institutional records dealing with mental health patients? Julian Pooley discusses this and other stories concerning the Surrey History Centre’s mental health records and documents. The archives contain a wealth of documentation from before institutions were closed down in preference to care in the community. Pooley looks at the reactions to mental health both then and now, and to stories of the patients themselves from the early eighteenth century right through to the present day. In conclusion, Pooley looks at ways to improve communication with the public and to promote an archival collection for better public understanding.