Beyond the Visible: Space, Place, and Power in Mental Health
Christopher Payne and Hannah Hull
Architectures of Mental Health
For centuries, state mental hospitals were designed to control patients stigmatized as outcasts and signal government power over populations labeled unwell. The architecture of these buildings occupies a position of great importance in the history of mental health care. The transition, more recently, towards community-based mental health care requires a deep understanding of the spatial configurations of state psychiatric institutions and the relationships they conjured. Architects, designers and mental-health practitioners must learn from the past to avoid historical mistakes. How can we re-imagine positive physical spaces where patients can experience mental distress and access mental health care through art and play? And how can we creatively and critically intervene with the world of mental health care in and outside psychiatric institutions?
Christopher Payne, Photographer/writer Hannah Hull, Artist Joel Sanders, Moderator
The goal of this year’s J. Irwin Miller Symposium at the Yale School of Architecture is to make designers and practitioners aware of their capacity to improve access to and perceptions of mental health. Throughout the month of September, the symposium will virtually convene a series of discussions with the goal of building collective capacity in improving access to mental health services and destigmatizing perceptions of mental health embedded in the built environment.
The global pandemic has only amplified the personal, social, and economic costs on mental illness, and has highlighted the need to consider the intersection of racial and economic inequality with mental health. The systemic violence inflicted on BIPOC communities brought to light during the global anti-racism protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd underscores the urgency to change the systems that inflict racial trauma. Design practitioners, therefore, have the responsibility to examine and reevaluate existing forms of community and care.
The symposium will explore issues of mental health at three scales: the hospital, the home, and the city. In engaging an interdisciplinary team to examine these themes, we might begin to understand how we can gain agency to influence practices surrounding mental health.
This inaugural Yale Mental Health Symposium is part of a long-term initiative at Yale, building on the work of the Yale Mental Health Colloquium which took place in 2019.