Decreasing the Stigma of Mental Health Facilities: Creating a Community Treatment Center in East Liberty, Pittsburgh
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This thesis demonstrates the positive impact that the built environment can have to decrease mental health stigma by creating specific design tools to blend community space and mental health treatment facilities through program integration, threshold layering, spatial options, and innovative therapies. These design tools draw from the work of social psychologist Dr. Patrick Corrigan, Ann Sussman and Dr. Justin Hollander’s writings on cognitive design, Professor Stephen Verderber’s writings on healthcare design, and architect Herman Hertzberger’s theory of polyvalent design to create space that encourages social interaction between disparate socio-demographic groups in the community. Enriched social dynamics in this outpatient treatment and community center hybrid will increase comfort and decrease stigma through the promotion of casual encounters between those seeking treatment and those using the space for community programming. This design proposal is sited in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh, which recently lost a mental health center due to gentrification.