Healthcare Design for Optimal Mental Health

Posted by on Jul 29, 2022 in Behind the Design
Healthcare Design for Optimal Mental Health

Healthcare design for mental health patients is on the rise. With the number of patients who receive mental health care increasing, healthcare design also needs to change. Mental health design within healthcare systems is meant to ensure that mental health patients feel comfortable seeking the treatment and help that they need. The highlights of an article recently posted in Healthcare Design Magazine are listed below, click here to read the full article.

Why Healthcare Design for Mental Health Patients?

New and expanded legislation and standards pushed a trend toward greater investment in treatment, including the Affordable Care Act, which broadened mental health and substance use disorder coverage and required parity with medical and surgical benefits. (Source)

Regulatory agencies are also playing a role, with the Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently addressing suicide prevention and ligature risk in facilities, while the Facility Guidelines Institute has updated codes and safety requirements in existing behavioral health facilities, igniting an increase in renovation and retrofit projects. (Source)

Surveying the Landscape

With different resources being added to each community from in-patient hospitals to crisis units, the environment of these facilities has never been more critical. People need to feel welcomed and able to use these resources without the fear of judgment. Alongside that, these resources are here to try and reduce the number of mental health patients that end up in the emergency department. Mental health issues left untreated can become unmanageable quickly and lead people to do something or have something happen to them that causes them to be brought to the emergency room. With these new programs, people can call the crisis unit instead and get the assistance that they need coming to them to help them.

For example, the state of Indiana has opened its first mental hospital in over 50 years. It’s called the Neurodiagnostic Institute and Advanced Treatment Center (NDI). The 159-bed facility, designed by BSA Life Structures, is located on a tight footprint on an existing medical campus, driving the building’s vertical design and a new connector to the existing hospital. Other recent examples include Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s renovation of an existing medical/surgical unit at the Kaiser Fremont Medical Center in Fremont, Calif., into its first inpatient medical/psychiatric unit. (Source)

Getting Out Ahead

Looking to the future, many design professionals say issues including the current opioid crisis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the rise in childhood suicide rates will keep mental health services in demand while recognizing the challenges the industry faces with a shortage of providers, inpatient beds, and ongoing issues related to funding and parity with reimbursements. Holmes says he acknowledges that organizations that offer services have been “very innovative in how they stretch their dollars,” but says more innovation is needed, particularly in outpatient programs and facilities, crisis centers, and transitional residential facilities. (Source)

If you want to read more articles like this, check out An Expanding Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Health Facility Emphasises Shared Spaces and Biophilic Inspired Design, The Use of Color in Healthcare Settings Can Impact Mental Health, and Biophilic Design Principles Provide Warmth and Familiarity to Maine Behavioral Healthcare Center of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Source: DiNardo, Anne. “Trend Report: Transformation in Mental Health Design – HCD Magazine.” HCD Magazine – Architecture & Interior Design Trends for Healthcare Facilities, 9 June 2020,

Marie Wikoff is the creator of Wikoff Design Studio based out of Reno, Nevada. Her expertise in healthcare design has helped modernize healthcare organizations locally, regionally, and internationally, improving patient experience and outcomes. Her credentials include Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designer (CHID), the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and LEED AP. Contact Marie Wikoff

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