Sozosei Foundation Convening: The Role of the Built Environment in Decriminalizing Mental Illness

On June 28, 2023, the Sozosei Foundation hosted a virtual convening discussing the role of the built environment in decriminalizing mental illness. The event featured S. Rebecca Neusteter, PhD of the University of Chicago Health Lab, Katya Smyth of the Full Frame Initiative, and Clyde Valentin of the One Nation/One Project in conversation with Melissa M. Beck, Esq., Executive Director of the Sozosei Foundation. 

The conversation was dynamic and provided participants with several key takeaways: 

  • The built environment presents challenges and opportunities to accessing mental healthcare.
  • Centering community defined well-being in design decisions is a key to ensuring access to mental healthcare. Tools developed by Full Frame Initiative are a great place to start.
  • Remaining aware of inherent bias and discrimination and its impact on our efforts is essential.
  • 911 is often the gateway to care and is ripe for transformation. The actionable ideas in the Transform911 Blueprint are a terrific place to start.
  • Artists, creative practice, and trauma-informed design should be woven into social change movements in order to shift cultural narrative and advance innovations as demonstrated by the One Nation/One Project sites in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois.
  • Embracing curiosity and employing data-driven experimentation that acknowledges present and upcoming challenges, such as climate change and artificial intelligence, will help us design a future where mental illness is not criminalized and community-based mental healthcare is readily and equitably available to all.

What are your thoughts about the role of the built environment in decriminalizing mental illness? Please share them with us here.

A recording of the event can be found here and we hope you will choose to share it with your network.

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