"Show us how to befriend them and not pass them by."
- - Engraved over the main entrance gate of the Asylum
Constructed in 1947, the Saint Benedetto Giuseppe Labre Asylum for the Mentally Afflicted was something of a revolutionary experiment for its time. Instead of the imposing, prison-style construction of its contemporaries, this mental institution was designed almost more like a park or wellness club, the only telltales of its true purpose being the exterior curtain wall and the security features built into its structures. Its founder, Theodore Nicholson, declared that he had seen all too often those afflicted by mental illness shut away like criminals and left to suffer, instead of given the help and compassion they truly needed. To this end, he designed the Asylum from the ground up as a place of peace and serenity, of open spaces and clean air. Indeed, many similar institutions were to follow in his stead, helping usher in the age of the true "mental hospital" and sweep out the lingering trappings of the bedlams of old.
The Saint Labre Asylum specializes in low- to medium-security patients, offering troubled individuals a safe, secure place where they can rest, recover, and heal. Restraints are rarely seen and only used if strictly necessary, with the primary focus being on Treatment, not Punishment. This is a hospital, a place of healing, not a prison. Art- and music-therapy sessions are conducted regularly, both individually and in groups, and patients are encouraged by staff to keep dream-journals as well as to speak with their caseworkers whenever they feel the need. To this end, the patient-to-staff ratio is surprisingly low, sometimes even to the point of allowing regular one-on-one therapy, letting the patients know that they, specifically, are receiving dedicated assistance from someone that truly cares.
For those truly tormented, Saint Labre also offers a high-security wing, designed to keep those that are a danger to themselves or others safe while working towards easing the fears and traumas that drove them to their current state. The success rate of Saint Labre has even brought Crystal Springs' penitentiaries to assign the occasional problem case to this wing, giving even the criminally insane a true chance at recovery and redemption instead of a nightmare of crowded cells and perfunctory parole hearings.
Many psychology students perform internships at Saint Labre, both because it is a relatively low-risk location and because it continues to be one of the more innovative facilities in America, even more than 60 years since its founding and dedication. Both students and staff are encouraged to work beyond the teachings and textbooks of their classroom days, to truly understand what makes the human mind behave the way it does, to "get their hands dirty" as it were. The long-standing tradition at Saint Labre is that standing behind a barrier and watching does the patient no good, and can sometimes even make the situation worse. To help them, you must reach them, and offer them a hand to guide them out of the darkness.
OOC Knowledge Edit
The construction of the Asylum was not just due to the humanitarian efforts of mortals. An Elder Malkavian, old before the United States even existed, planted the suggestion, guided it to fruition, and now lairs deep within the facility. The staff knows nothing of him, this Watcher in the Dark, and neither he nor his lair appears in any records of the facility. Nevertheless, his touch can still be felt. He regards this as the latest of several experiments on the true nature of madness and the human mind, with not only the patients and staff of the Asylum as his subjects, but those connected to them as well. The dark touch of his Clan’s madness has seeped into the very walls of the facility, stirring visions and dreams within those sensitive enough to hear the whispers, and the surrounding Umbra has become a place of wonder and nightmare. Spirits of dreams and visions are drawn there like moths to a flame, and leave somehow changed. Shifted towards that part of the mind and soul that cannot wake, where the conscious mind dares not look.