Norristown State Hospital is a long-term psychiatric facility that is Medicare and Medicaid certified. The hospital provides treatment for patients with severe and persistent mental illness.

Norristown State Hospital is located outside of the city of Philadelphia, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. It stretches for 225 rolling, tree-lined acres, and is home to many different community mental health service providers. It is known for being the first institution in the country that recognized female physicians and the first to house a pathology department.

The facility has a total of 375 beds. 255 beds are for patients in the Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center and 120 beds for patients in our Forensic Stepdown Program. In the past, Norristown State Hospital had a Civil Section for patients being referred by a Community Hospital, but this is no longer the current practice. Currently, all admissions must be court ordered through the criminal justice system.

Treatment at Norristown State Hospital is directed by psychiatric leadership through the treatment team, a partnership with the individual receiving care and treatment, their family members, members of the patient and family advocacy community, representatives from the county offices of mental health, and members of the hospital's clinical, administrative, and support teams. This partnership of service enables and facilitates psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery. Norristown State Hospital is committed to service in support of recovery.

A dynamic hospital wide performance improvement program continually strives to enhance services provided.

Forensic Mission & Goals

The Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center (RFPC) provides active psychiatric treatment and/or psychiatric evaluation and competency assessment/restoration in a secure facility for persons that are involved with the county-based judicial/correction systems. A person referred for admission to the RFPC must be under criminal detention. For those persons committed for psychiatric treatment, the anticipated outcome is that with the stabilization of symptoms, the patient will return to the judicial system. For those patients referred for court-ordered evaluations, the expected outcome is competency restoration, evaluation or a determination of restorability, with a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation forwarded to the court of jurisdiction.

Step Down Mission & Goals

The step-down unit provides individual treatment in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary treatment team and the individual receiving services focused on enhancing skills that will result in effective community discharge planning as permitted through the judicial court system. Ongoing involvement by community behavior health partners occurs throughout treatment.

Active Treatment

NSH utilizes best practices focused on the individual's treatment needs. Examples of treatment may include, vocational services, competency restoration, anger management, life skill training occupational therapy, physical therapy, co-occurring disorders services.

Patient's Rights

Norristown State Hospital is dedicated to assuring that the rights of all patients are protected. The Bill of Rights in the PA Code, Title 55 details the protected rights of all patients receiving mental health services. Copies of these rights are given to patients through the Norristown State Hospital Patient Handbook and posted in each patient unit and in programming areas. The Handbook is mailed to each patient's family and is made available for other patients who are interested.

Additional Services

  • Patient Advisory Council provides regular patient collaboration with administrative representatives regarding input on enhancing services. The Patient Advisory Council is a group of elected patients who review policy and bring patient input to the Administration on various issues. The Council sponsors special meetings with counties to provide patients with the opportunity to interact directly and helps to plan annual patient conferences.

  • Norristown State Hospital has an active Human Rights Committee composed of hospital staff, advocates, patients, and interested patients from the community. This group reviews key risk management data, hospital policy, and advises the hospital administration on areas of concern. This group assisted in the development of a Patient Advisory Council (PAC) and continues to provide the group with assistance.

  • There is a Families Group for any family member interested. The group meets periodically with the Chief Executive Officer/Designee and other selected Administrative members. This group has direct, regularly scheduled access to the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Designee regarding program development and overall hospital management. Email us @ for any additional comments, questions or suggestions.

  • Services are provided at Norristown State Hospital for persons with mental illness with deaf and hard of hearing or for whom English is not the spoken language, and for persons with physical disabilities.

  • Two advocates are provided by the National Alliance for Mental Ill (NAMI) and the Mental Health Association of Southeastern PA to serve the patients of Norristown State Hospital. They are available to all patients in the hospital and participate in the placement transition process. The Advocates work to ensure patients' rights are protected as guaranteed under the Constitution and federal, state, and local laws.

  • Norristown State Hospital continues to operate a very active volunteer program, which provides supplemental services and robust community contact for patients. If you would like to volunteer or donate clothes, please contact the Volunteer Department at 610- 313-1228. Email us @

  • The NSH Greenhouse Market proceeds benefit the patients we serve and their vocational horticultural program. Our greenhouse provides daily employment and promotes gardening as a therapeutic intervention. FIND US ON FACEBOOK @ for weekly specials and events!

History of Norristown State Hospital

In May 1876, under Public Law 121, the Pennsylvania Legislature called for the establishment of a state mental hospital to serve the Southeastern District of Pennsylvania. It was designed in 1878-80 by Wilson Brothers & Company. It was the first institution in the country that recognized female physicians and the first to house a Pathology department.

Norristown State Hospital received its first patient, a woman, on July 12, 1880. Two more women arrived on July 13th followed by the first two men on July 17th. Very soon thereafter groups of individuals were admitted from other state hospitals and county almshouses. By September 30, 1880, there were 295 men and 251 women receiving in-patient care and treatment.

Norristown State Hospital was the first of the Pennsylvania state hospitals to construct its buildings in a style following the "cottage" model, developed in Gheel, Belgium, rather than the large-scale single structure Kirkbride Model that was composed of multiple "wings" attached to it. The Norristown State Hospital buildings were separate structures above ground but were all inter-connected by a system of tunnels. The "cottage" model allowed for the separation of patients into areas based somewhat on their level of functioning.

The 1920s and 1930s specialized departments such as Social Work, Occupational Therapy, and Psychology were developed. Some years later, Volunteer Resources, Recreation, and Vocational Services were formally established.

The renowned Arthur P. Noyes became Superintendent in 1936 and remained in that position until 1959. Dr. Noyes started the Psychiatric Residency Program which was to be in operation for almost fifty years. He opened the hospital gates and introduced many innovations in treatment and thinking. His book, Modern Clinical Psychiatry, is considered a classic in the field of Psychiatry.

During the 1930's and 1940's electroshock therapy, insulin coma therapy, and lobotomies became methods of treatment. The usage of psychotropic (anti-psychotic) medications began in the early 1950s. Medications were able to help control and lessen the severity of many of the symptoms and behaviors associated with mental illness. At this time there were over 4,000 patients.

Specialized treatment units for substance abuse, social rehabilitation, geriatrics, adolescents, forensics, among others, were developed during the latter 1950s and into the 1960s. There was an emphasis on social and vocational rehabilitation to prepare persons for community re-entry. The late 1960s and early 1970s stressed an emphasis on the placement of many patients into the community. The census began to drop significantly. The number of inpatients dropped from about 3200 in February 1968 to slightly over 1700 in May 1973.

In more recent years, Norristown State Hospital has assimilated multiple patients and staff from the closures of other state hospitals so now it is the only remaining state hospital in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Hospital Address

Norristown State Hospital
1001 Sterigere Street
Norristown, PA 19401
Phone: 610-313-1000