Global architecture firm Woods Bagot have designed Australia's first facility to use design to help treat young mental health patients. The Young Adults Mental Health Unit at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney cares for patients who are 16 to 30 years old.
Using evidence based design principles, Woods Bagot integrated art, color, and light to create what they call positive distractions. The Unit's open areas with limited boundaries, maximum city views, multi-functional spaces for creative activities, and cocoon-like spaces for respite are meant to create a calm, healing environment. The design in this case is part of the treatment.
Alan McMahon, a senior interior designer at Woods Bagot, explains in a press release (pdf) that
"It is now openly accepted that a well designed environment can assist greatly in the healing process, so the aspiration for this project was to ensure calm and legible surroundings that encourage a community feeling to inspire confidence within the patients."
Although mental health is the single biggest health issue that young Australians face, early treatment hasn't been a focus for the country's healthcare system. St. Vincent Hospital hopes that the new facility and its mission will reduce the need for this age group to be admitted into adult facilities.
Dr Peter McGeorge adds
"The new facility is designed to support young adults who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis or mood disorder before they become more severe or to review treatment at times of relative remission. In establishing this model of care we expect in the long run to contribute to better recovery outcomes for individuals and to provide improved support [for] their families."
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Images: Woods Bagot