Exploring Female Mental Health Through Rockhaven: A History of Interiors


Rockhaven: A History of Interiors is a collection of essays about the first “feminist sanitarium” in the United States. The tone of the essays in the anthology can be described as “weighted but lyrical, intelligent and informed, feminine and ominous.” Rockhaven Sanitarium opened in 1923 amongst a frenzy of violent and abusive methods used towards women. Rockhaven aimed to treat patients with dignity and care; patients referring only to upper-middle-class white women. In 2015, locals set out to designate the site a historical place known as a “repository of stories” and preserve it as a part of feminist history. In response to Rockhaven, the small press Which Witch LA published the anthology composed of personal essays which aim to explore how mental health is a feminist issue through the written word.

Discussion Question

How has the presentation of women’s mental health in the media evolved over time?

Further Reading

Read more about the history of female mental health and how those who defied gender roles were imprisoned in asylums.

Action Item

If you’re interested in reading the collection essays, the book can be purchased here.

Read more on Hyperallergic | Image: Which Witch LA