Beyond the Visible: Space, Place, and Power in Mental Health
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Beyond the Visible: Space, Place, and Power in Mental Health

September 15, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT

J. Irwin Miller Symposium
Beyond the Visible: Space, Place, and Power in Mental Health
The Inaugural Yale Mental Health Symposium
September 10-24, 2020

Please join us for Beyond the Visible: Space, Place, and Power in Mental Health, which will take place over five virtual sessions from September 10 to September 24, 2020. Please register online; the link to join the Zoom webinar will be sent out shortly before each event.

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.

Register here.

Keynote Address, Thursday, September 10, 2020, 6:30 p.m. EST
The Social and Ecological Aspects of the Psychology of Place
Mindy Thompson Fullilove

Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD, LFAPA, Hon AIA, is a social psychiatrist and professor of urban policy and health at The New School.  Since 1986, she has conducted research on AIDS and other epidemics of poor communities, with a special interest in the relationship between the collapse of communities and decline in health.

Elihu Rubin, Moderator

Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 1:00 p.m. EST
The Hospital Panel—Deconstructing ‘Otherness’
The built form of the psychiatric hospital signals how society responds to mental health. These buildings have the ability to create positive reflections or conjure images of the mental health institution as a figure of ‘Otherness.’ Among BIPOC communities, mental health care is frequently limited and commonly linked to detention orders requiring hospital stays. The Hospital Panel will imagine progressive models that dismantle prevalent perceptions of mental health and improve equitable access and experiences of clients inhabiting these architectures.

Kelechi Ubozoh, Writer and Mental Health Advocate
Christian Karlsson, Architect
Jason Danziger, Architect

Thursday, September 17, 2020, 6:30 p.m. EST
The Home Panel—After the Asylum: Housing & Mental Health
The home is an important place in which to address mental health. The decline of both institutional asylums and in-patient mental health care has given way to a transition towards community-based home care. As underserved populations with mental illness continue to face barriers to good, affordable, or sheltered housing, designers and design professionals must consider how to make good housing accessible. In recent months, the home has become the frontline defense against the coronavirus, amplifying the need to ensure equitable access to safe, affordable housing. The Home Panel will begin to redress perceptions of mental health at the most basic scale of the home and will examine the importance of the home for improving mental health outcomes.

Alison Cunningham, Former CEO of Columbus House
Earle Chambers, Epidemiologist
Sam Tsemberis, Pathways Housing First
Jessica Helfand, Moderator

Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 1:00 p.m. EST
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

Thursday, September 24, 2020, 6:30 p.m. EST
The City Panel—Mental Health and the Right to the City
The spatial inequities embedded within cities have cascading effects on an individual’s access to mental health care. Racist urban malpractices such as redlining and housing discrimination are examples of generational exclusion and denial of opportunity to individuals based on race. These practices have lasting effects on the economic, social, and health disparities across discriminated communities. As practitioners that co-create urban environments, we must understand how our work maps onto the city’s physical and social geographies and reassert the link between urban space and improved mental health. The City Panel will discuss urban infrastructure, the criminalization of poverty, transportation, and food inequity, unveiling the deeply embedded systems of injustice that contribute to unequal access to mental well-being across racial lines.

Bryan Lee, Architect
Molly Kaufman, Community Organizer/journalist
Nupur Chaudhury, Urbanist, New York State Health Foundation
Justin Garrett Moore, Moderator