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Design for Mental Health
The Observatory for Rights in the Field of Mental Health asks for your help, in order to become warmer, more beautiful and more functional!
The Observatory operates for 12 years now in Thessaloniki, Greece, self-help groups for people who hear voices, have paranoid ideas or other unusual experiences, for people who experience extreme sadness or anxiety and for people with psychotic experiences and/or their relatives. It assists people in defending their rights, offers legal counselling and supports families in crisis, when one of their members experiences psychiatric hospitalizations. It trains mental health professionals in a different perspective, away from violence and dead-ends. The Observatory does not receive any funding. All its actions have been open to any interested person free of charge. Its actions all these years are exclusively based on human and material resources offered by its members, on the grounds of each person’s availability.
Today, in collaboration with the young architects Lida Lioupi and Penny Stergiopoulou the Observatory has planned and is implementing the project “Design for Mental Health”. This concerns the re-shaping of the space, so that it can become more welcoming to the people who use it and more flexible and functional for the members of the Observatory, in order to realize their ideas and plans for the development of their initiatives, always in the direction of safeguarding rights in the field of mental health.
Space design significantly influences its users’ mood, emotions, even self-perception, while it can have a major impact on their behaviors and the modes of interaction between them and with their environment. The architectural proposal of Lida and Penny combines functionality and aesthetics, placing particular emphasis on the flexible arrangement of space, lighting and colors, the use of ecological and recyclable materials, the inclusion of natural elements in the space, the creation of a sense of familiarity and keeping the budget at the lower possible levels.
The Observatory for Rights in the Field of Mental Health (@paratiritiriopsy) is a collectivity consisting of persons who have experienced or experience extreme mental states – that is to say, persons with psychiatric experience, as they usually define themselves – relatives, mental health professionals, students and other interested citizens. Since 2006, when it was founded in Thessaloniki, it has introduced innovative – for Greece – ideas of self-organization in the field of mental health, on the basis of the principles of organizations of persons with psychiatric experience throughout the world.
In 2017, with the collective effort of its members and friends, the Observatory moved to its own space in an underground gallery in the more creative and frequented area in the center of Thessaloniki. It is a high ceiling space of 150m2, which, within a few months of operation, houses the older self-help groups of the Observatory, new groups of mental empowerment, as well as events, such as art exhibition and artists’ talks, theatre group, fairy tale recounting, film and documentary screenings, musical performances and discussions, always in the direction of informing on alternative approaches to mental distress and on rights in the field of mental health.
Today, our aim is to develop the underground space in Typou 5 str. to a space more beautiful, warmer and more functional, so that it can house the rich initiatives and vision of the people of the Observatory. The young architects, friends of the Observatory, Lida Lioupi and Penny Stergiopoulou (βλ. @allelo architecture) of the NGO ‘Allelo’, responded to our call to take on the architectural design of our new space. This way the creative project “Design for Mental Health” was born. The proposal required great inspiration, close collaboration, long discussions and hard work! With high motivation, youthful freshness and determination, Lida and Penny completed an excellent design, which – although unbelievable – includes appropriate spaces to house:
- Self-help groups of persons with psychiatric experience and their relatives
- Educational seminars and experiential workshops for persons with psychiatric experience, mental health professionals, and others who want to engage in the field of mental health and dealing with severe crises
- Library and reading space, relaxation space
- Events, discussions, screenings, exhibitions, music performances
- Theater, creative expression and movement groups
- Legal counseling with persons whose rights are violated during their hospitalizations
- Secretariat and archive
- A private space for individual and family meetings and information
- Regular and reflexive meetings of the collectivity
- Support during acute crises, so that they do not end up with violence and psychiatric hospitalizations
All the above take place, while paying attention to aesthetics, comfort, lighting, functionality, but also the encouragement of a sense of familiarity, calmness and safety.
You can find the architecture blueprints and the photorealistic
representations of the project at the campaign's images.
In this trajectory we need and want you by our side!
We call people who believe in the vision of the Observatory for
- Psychosocial services organized bottom-up, by the persons with psychiatric experiences themselves, free of violence and compulsion
- Supporting and spreading the idea of recovery from extreme mental experiences and living a meaningful life, and
- Strengthening the voice of the self-help movements in the field of mental health
We call those of you who believe in the offer of the two young architects, who support with their creativity and their expertise non-profit social initiatives by shaping, functionally and aesthetically, their everyday actions
To support us in this next step of acquiring a space that, apart from multi-use and functional, will be respectable, welcoming and aesthetically interesting and attractive, and that will further promote the creation and development of alternative approaches to mental distress.
We keep hope, solidarity, faith in life alive. And for this we would like you to be our allies!