At Wernersville State Hospital, active treatment services are developed on the basis of evidence and promise-based practices and delivered in the context of each person's individualized treatment plan.

The belief that any person can and will recover from mental illness is a basic premise for services. Equally central to the design of active treatment are the preferences, goals, and wishes of the person being served identified through peer assessment, self-assessment, wellness recovery action planning and education on mental health advance directives.

Wernersville is located 12 miles west of the City of Reading in Berks County and has a capacity to serve up to 266 individuals. Residents of Adams, Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, and York Counties in need of in-patient treatment for serious and persistent mental illness in a supervised and supportive environment are eligible for services.

The Wernersville State Hospital is certified by the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS).

Hospital services are available in the following evidence-based areas:

  • Illness management and recovery
  • Medication management
  • Integrated dual diagnosis treatment
  • Family Psychoeducation
  • Employment

Services are also available in the following promised-based areas:

  • Certified peer supports
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Assertive outreach

Admission Process

Referrals for admission are facilitated through the mental health program of the individual's Pennsylvania county of residence. All persons referred for admission will first receive the benefit of all treatment alternatives in his/her local community including inpatient treatment in a community hospital before being recommended for longer-term in-patient psychiatric treatment at a state hospital. All admissions occur consistent with the Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976.

Admission Department  Information

Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hospital staff are available to answer questions and help with procedures at (610) 670-4145.

Referral information and accompanying clinical justification must be received from an approved referral source before consideration for admission may proceed.

Active Treatment Programs

Professional services are provided by psychiatrists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, activity therapists, vocational counselors, aide staff, dieticians, spiritual advisors, physical therapists, and volunteer resources. Additional services include optical, dental, speech, hearing and language services and off-campus physical health services as indicated by the needs of the consumer.

Active treatment programs are available throughout the hospital regardless of the living unit. In addition to promoting independence, responsibility for personal care and hygiene, programs are designed to enhance a person's knowledge of mental health concerns.

Many programs are oriented towards the circumstances resulting in the consumer's need for admission; such as Managing Your Illness, Anger Management, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, MISA (Mental Illness & Substance Abuse), AA, Recovery, Cognitive Remediation, Remotivation, Community Readiness, and Discharge Group. Others are for self-help or enrichment: South Mountain Workshop, Spanish Groups, Music Appreciation, Woodworking, Female Fitness, Men's Issues and Health, Ceramics, Arts and Crafts, Computer Literacy, Spirituality, and Choir.

Other programs address reasons for continuing hospitalization: Recovery, MISA, Remotivation, Understanding Your Illness, Diabetes Group, Managing Your Illness, Healthy You, Anger Management, Stress Reduction Skills and Coping with Delusions and Hallucinations. Other programs are aimed at building skills and enrichment: Workshop, Communications, Computer Literacy, Fitness Programs, Library, Spanish Groups, Internet, Life Skills, Smoking Cessation and Music Appreciation.

Continued treatment for elderly or medically fragile psychiatric consumers consists of illness stabilization, remotivation, role functioning and maintenance of skills. Programs include A New Outlook, Social Interaction, Jogging Memories, Exercise, Morning Orientation, Current Events, Workshop, Money Management, Cooking, Horticulture, Family Contact, Tai Chi, Art, Music Appreciation, Humor, Bible Study and Library.

Treatment Teams

Every person admitted to Wernersville State Hospital is served by a treatment team. A treatment team is the group of individuals including a psychiatrist, social worker, registered nurse, therapeutic activities representative and psychologist who are responsible for coordinating each consumer's treatment services. The psychiatrist is the Treatment Team Leader. Additional members include a physician and sometimes a dietician, psychiatric aide, county-based case manager, and spiritual advisor. The consumer is considered a part of the treatment team and may also elect to involve his/her family member(s).

External Advocacy Services

Advocacy services are available through the Berks County Mental Health Association. External advocates work on the hospital premises every weekday and Tuesday evening and may be directly contacted by calling 610-670-4150 or 1-800-828-3354, extension 150.

Advisory Structure

A Consumer Advisory Council meets with the Hospital Executive Team on a monthly basis to discuss concerns and suggestions for program improvements. An Advisory Board of Trustees consisting of nine residents of the counties served by the hospital and appointed for time limited terms by the Governor meets on a quarterly basis to advise the Hospital CEO regarding concerns and suggestions for program improvements.

History of Wernersville State Hospital

The Pennsylvania General Assembly authorized the creation of the State Asylum for the Chronic Insane [i.e. Wernersville State Hospital] on June 22, 1891. The facility was to be a public mental hospital for persons needing extended care. Courts were not permitted to make direct admissions to Wernersville; only patients who had at least one year of care at another state mental hospital were eligible for admission. This special role for Wernersville continued until 1923.

Rankin and Kellogg of Philadelphia designed the new hospital buildings, and the overall appearance of the main Administration/residential buildings was modeled after Independence Hall. The total cost for the plant was $472,603.41. The facility plan was considered advanced for the times, as there were no walls surrounding the grounds nor were there bars on the windows and doors. The patients selected were nonviolent but required long-term care. They could freely move in and out of the buildings. The Pennsylvania Legislature's special commission was very impressed by the "fresh air" and spring waters in this rural setting in Berks County. The adjacent area had long been recognized for its fashionable resorts attracting many summer visitors from Philadelphia and New York.

Between June 29 and July 5, 1893, 100 male patients and 30 female patients were transferred by train from other state hospitals to Wernersville. Since the main building was still under construction, the men occupied the grist mill and the females lived temporarily in the Hain cottage. Everyone was expected to work. The men began establishing the farm program and the women used the kitchen in the cottage to prepare meals for the entire group. Among the new patients was a carpenter and a stonemason and their skills were put to use right away. A stone wall for a pond was built; a dormitory was converted from a barn; tables and benches were constructed for use in the dayrooms; a patient blacksmith made tongues and axles for the wagons. By spring of 1894, the farm was in full operation and the main building was nearing completion for occupation later that summer.

Additional dormitories were finished and housed the men and women, with approximately 46 beds in each dormitory. Attendants also occupied private rooms throughout the new buildings. On the hospital grounds, physical changes were continuous almost from the time the initial construction was completed. Many other facilities were added to the complex and they included a full kitchen, dining room, chapel, infirmary, employees' cafeteria, bakeshop, boiler house, laundry, ice plant, filtration plant, and farm buildings. In the late 1890s, a small railroad station was built adjacent to the grounds.

The patient population hovered around 800 and 900 through the hospital's first quarter-century. By 1935 it had increased to 1,407, and with the closing of mental health wards at many county hospitals in 1942, Wernersville soared past its planned 1,000 capacity with 1,832 patients. By 1970 the census figure was 1,167; the decrease was due to new treatments and intensive community readiness programs conducted by professional therapists. This deinstitutionalization process continued, and by 1975 the population had been reduced again to 832; by 1992 it was 468.

With the ever-improving advances in psychiatric treatment and pharmacology and the concentration on cooperative discharge planning, Wernersville was able to return more patients to the community in this last decade. The hospital currently works very closely with the mental health programs of Berks, Lebanon, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton and York/Adams Counties toward the goal of preparing patients for community living.

Hospital Address

Wernersville State Hospital
160 Main Street
Wernersville, PA 19565
Phone: 610-678-3411
Toll Free: 800-828-3354

Messages may be left after hours on the 800 line by dialing extension 129.


Visiting hours are 3-5 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. weekdays and 1-5 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. weekends and holidays. Special arrangements for other hours may be made through the social work department.

Hours of Operation

The Admissions Office is staffed from 8 a.m-4 p.m Monday through Friday. Messages may be left 24-hours a day, seven days a week and someone will return the call during regular hours of operation.

Employment Opportunities

Wernersville State Hospital is always seeking to fill clinical position which consists of staff psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed occupational therapists, and registered nurses. For specific information regarding current and future openings, please contact the Human Resource Office at (610) 670-4173 or

You can also visit the State Civil Service Commission web site for additional information.