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UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital unveils Matt’s Maker Space

UPMC West Psychiatric Hospital this week unveiled a new Matt’s creative space at the Partial Acute Hospital for Children and Adolescents and Intensive Outpatient Program, located on the south side of Pittsburgh. The space is designed to integrate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities into a behavioral health program for children and adolescents struggling with mental health issues such as suicidality, self-harm or self-harm. mood disorders.

This is the first Matt’s Maker Space to open in a behavioral health environment, where STEAM activities will empower pediatric behavioral health patients to express themselves using more than just words.

“We are truly grateful for this commitment on the part of the Conover family,” said Deborah Brodine, president of UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital and Senior Services, at a space dedication ceremony. “We are thrilled to have this creative space and look forward to welcoming a second opening in a location of the UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital soon. “

Matt’s Maker spaces are made possible by the Conover family who started the initiative in honor of their son, Matt, who lost his battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2002. The Conovers wanted to bring Matt’s memory to life and opened 28 spaces throughout the Pittsburgh area, with plans for additional spaces to be added. In 2018, UPMC Children’s became the first hospital to receive a Matt’s Maker Space.

UPMC Western Psychiatric unveiled the first Matt’s Maker Space focused on behavioral health care.

“Matt’s Maker Spaces are at the forefront of STEAM education, and they are the kind of spaces that allow children to learn in unique and creative ways. We know that creative spaces can be part of the healing process. This space will provide children with the opportunity to create, collaborate and dream in a non-judgmental zone, as part of their evidence-based therapeutic treatment, ”said Noelle Conover, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Matt’s Maker Space.

“What we can do here is really give our children experiences that will help them discover different parts of their brains, different parts of their being and express themselves other than in words, because not everyone can’t use words when upset. . But getting dirty, making art is fun, and fun makes us better, even in the worst of times, ”said Dr Abigail Schlesinger, head of child and adolescent psychiatry at UPMC Western Psychiatric and UPMC Children’s Hospital.

UPMC Western Psychiatric’s Partial Acute Hospital for Children and Adolescents and Intensive Outpatient Program serve nearly 40 patients per week who will now be able to integrate STEAM into their behavioral health care. The treatment model is therapy-centered, teaching patients to “live in the moment” and help them develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve relationships with others.

“The use of creative activities will create an open space for patients and families to recognize the impact of their emotions on them and move on to healthier emotional regulation. We think this fits perfectly, because it’s a safe space where mistakes are allowed, and mess is part of the process, ”said Sarah Fallica, program director at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital.

The Conover family hope the space will help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and make children feel better in a safe space.

“You see Matt was diagnosed with cancer, not with mental illness, so there was no stigma, just support. We know if our son was diagnosed with depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. , the world would have left us alone, “said Conover.” We know that the consequence of stigma on adolescent mental health is that children don’t get the treatment they need. We also know that providing a safe space and inclusive where students can come together will help their mental health, and we hope that by donating this space, it will pave the way for others to follow and help change attitudes towards people with mental health issues. . “

For more information on the behavioral services offered at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, visit To learn more about Matt’s Maker spaces, visit