Yup. This is gonna be a cheery one.
Mental health is essentially the only health measures that matter long-term for most characters in Eclipse Phase, but a cursory re-read didn't give me much insight into what the recovery options actually look like. And I don't mean the recovery options mechanically. I mean, what do mental health wards, simul-asylums, mental hospitals, and so on actually look like in Eclipse Phase, and in various locations across the system?
And building off that, how can those be twisted into something fitting a horror game?
My reasoning for that is pretty simple and two-parts: as someone who has had a lot of stays in various mental facilities, there's always been a perverse fascination with them for me, and they're a very potent setting for drama in any game where mental health is a factor. The kick off is that it's a chance for very hard challenges to be faced that serve as a break from the usual sort of gameplay you'd see in EP. Being institutionalized -- and have it go wrong -- is a fantastic way to explore a character's psyche and vulnerabilities, bring in more sinister conspiracies, or just hammer in the grimdark to your heart's content if you happen to have read/seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest recently.
A few things that occur to me for what these would be like, though I very much want to open it up to in-depth discussion. For simplicity, I'm calling every location that serves the purpose of healing Stress Damage by the umbrella term of an "Asylum." I know it's not accurate for things like outpatient mental health clinics, counselors offices, etc., but it's simpler and helps evoke the mood I'm going for. I'm operating under the assumption that most people will view reverting to a backup as a last resort or will not have the option to do so.
Asylums are common across the system, often attached to resleeving clinics and backup banks as a matter of course. Mental health is going to be very much more in the public consciousness due the proximity of the Fall chronologically and the constant decanting of people from Dead Storage throughout the main population hubs. Everyone knows someone who knows someone with PTSD at least. (Really sobering to think about...)
You cannot have purely simulspace asylums. If someone incurs significant stress while in a physical morph, needing to resleeve into an infomorph puts them at risk of continuity and alienation failure, which, if they're close to the 2x LUC limit, is a serious threat to their existence. And in-universe (and in reality, honestly), major changes to someone already stressed out is a bad idea in general.
Those asylum simulspaces cannot be time accelerated all the time. At bare minimum, they need to be at realtime to mitigate risks with any psychosurgery.
More of the decorations would need to be realspace in the physical asylums rather than AR, to again, mitigate the risk of compounding characters with dissociative, schizoid, psychotic, or otherwise compromised perceptions of reality. As a corollary, these spaces would need to be as big as habitat size and funding allow.
While mental health practices have had a century and some to mature, the sheer amount that EP can do with the brain, and the explicit statements that the brain remains at least partially blackboxed and dangerous to work with mean that asylums may be more efficient and effective, but they are by no means near a panacea for many mental illnesses or traumas.
Many of these locations are going to be corp-funded. Cognite is a big name in brain matters of all sorts, but minicorps specializing in mental health care are likely, particularly on otherwise self-sufficient habitats.
For the good Asylums, I'm envisioning the Eclipse Phase version as avoiding the white walls that are probably common anywhere AR skinning is standard, instead favoring the best physical decoration in the "calming and safe" spectrum possible. (Horror seed: overdoing this gets unsettling and frustrating very quickly). There are probably a good lot of Ayahs staffing these places, likely run by humanities AGI (though with human [or uplift, where applicable] staff too, for again the reasons of reality discernment complications above) (Horror seed: AGI/AI complications/hacking). It goes without saying that these are places absolutely forbidding weaponry or armor, and dangerous/combat morphs suggest to me that there would be at least a handful of speciality wards ("Dr. Connors, to the Reaper Wars, please, Dr. Connors..."). Physical asylums (and simulspaces modeled after them) probably share the same basic layout we have today, with rooms for patients, common rooms, exercise chambers, counseling rooms, general purpose rooms, etc.
I'm honestly unsure what differences to expect in various parts of the system. Inside Venus-Sol, it's probably pretty sparse and barebones like everything else is. Venus and Titan are probably the shining stars of mental health care, though Titan in particular has to be strained to the limit or beyond by the sheer number of souls being resurrected there. Earth orbit/Luna/Earth-Sol, if you have a decent job, you probably have access to good healthcare in general, and the proximity to Earth and the number of reinstantiated means that there's at least a huge demand for mental health care. I dunno. Most of the LLA and PC are easy to typecast as being corrupt and evil and uncaring, but even if you want to go with that, the goodwill PR and potential loyalty payoff toward ensuring people get the help they need is potentially pragmatic enough even there. Even if you have a much lighter PC or LLA (or whoever, really), someone has to provide funding and train personnel, so the corps are, as always, going to be the variable there.
I actually think Jupiter would be pretty good in terms of at least attempting to provide for its own. Say what you will about xenophobic facism, but there's a strong "care for your own" mentality there, and the real question to me is less about intent and more about space and equipment concerns.
The Autonomists...well, if you're on extropia and have a mental breakdown and don't have some kind of contractual safety net, good luck. Communalist/collective autonomists are amusingly closer to Jupiter in this case, being less a question of intent and more of practical ability (their smaller typical populations also raise staffing/resource questions). It would be interesting to see how one's rep score reflects a mental breakdown or similar.