Grant Application

Rameshwari V. Tumuluru, MD, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC

Proposed Innovation

Children and teenagers with psychiatric conditions and adults with developmental disabilities can struggle with anxiety, depression, and self-harming behaviors. Mindfulness is a proven therapeutic skill that helps patients to practice staying in the present and focusing on the here and now.

This innovative project aims to create a Mindfulness Garden at The Southside Programs — part of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) of UPMC — as a living educational and therapeutic space where patients can learn and practice mindfulness through an activity that will enhance their sense of connectedness.

Improvements in Action

During the creation of the WPIC Southside Mindfulness Garden Project, plants and gardening tools will be purchased and a raised bed garden will be built. Mats also will be purchased for use in mindfulness exercises.

Patients who attend the WPIC Southside Adolescent Partial Hospital Program, Intensive Outpatient Program, and the UPMC Vocational Training Center will learn how to take care of the garden.


Learning how to care for the garden is expected to increase awareness of the environment and sense of self in the patients. In addition, working alongside other patients will help nurture a sense of belonging to a community. The children, teenagers, and adults with disabilities who participate in the project also will learn about nutrition and how to make healthy eating choices. Anticipated outcomes include improved wellness and decreased psychiatric symptoms, improved staff wellbeing, and better nutritional choices.