How Facility Design Impacts Behavioral Health Treatment

Jan 29, 2019

behavioral health whiteboards

About 44 million American adults suffer from some type of mental health condition, studies show, and many people are not receiving the treatment they need. As talk of behavioral and mental health issues continue to rise, medical facilities are confronting the issue with better design practices that can help them treat, and often house, patients who suffer from behavioral issues. Even general care hospitals are creating environments that are catered towards treating patients that suffer from both physical ailments but behavioral issues.

The design elements vary from facility to facility and are often based on the type of patients that are being treated. What is needed within a memory care facility filled with geriatric patients may not be suitable for a pediatric facility. The same can be said about general behavioral health facilities where there are many different types of patients with different conditions.

These are the design features that are making their way into hospitals and behavioral health facilities across the country: 

Large, Open Spaces 

Common areas in mental health facilities are places where staff need to keep a close eye on patients and their interactions. Open floor plans allow for fewer staff members who, when placed in a central location, can easily watch over patients because visibility to all corners of the room is optimal. These types of spaces also make the rooms where many people are gathered feel less crowded, which can help calm certain patients.

Natural Light

The incorporation of windows into dimly-lit spaces can have significant positive impacts on the moods of behavioral health patients, especially those who suffer from depression. Studies show that bright light therapy is an effective treatment for depressive illnesses. It's been used as both a primary treatment and as a supplement to pharmacological treatments. Natural light can also help patients who are physically ill recover faster because it controls the body's circadian system and enable certain chemical reactions within the body. 

Private vs. Shared Rooms

Is it better for behavioral health patients to share rooms or have a private place all for themselves? Research shows both to be true. Some patients benefit from having a roommate, and the presence of another person within a patient's living space may even prevent potential suicide and self-harm. However, certain patients do not react well to shared living spaces and prefer the solitude of a private living space. Ultimately, a mix of private and shared rooms can be beneficial to behavioral health facilities. 

Designing for Specific Patients 

Since the needs of behavioral patients can vary to a great extent, the design considerations that go into each facility can change from location to location. Facilities that specialize in memory care often have many geriatric patients and will take specific measures to protect against falls. These will often include adding handrails to walls, increasing visibility with brightly-lit spaces and adding heavily contrasting colors to different flooring materials, which makes the transition from one type of flooring to another easily seen. Facilities that specialize in pediatric behavioral healthcare are focused on creating spaces that offer positive distractions, sensory engagement and plenty of opportunities to play and explore. 

General inpatient healthcare facilities incorporate multifaceted design layouts and elements that account for the diversity they have in their patient base. Ancillary areas are used to group together patients who suffer from similar behavioral health issues. These areas can be tailored specifically to the needs of different types of patients while still providing them a space to interact with one another (rather than having each patient confined to a private room). 

Whiteboard Designs for Behavioral Health Facilities 

At VividBoard, we work with behavioral health facilities and hospital who treat behavioral healthcare patients to design and manufacture custom whiteboards that are tailored to help doctors communicate with their patients. Our whiteboards are frameless and mounted with tamper resistant screws, which keeps at-risk patients and staff safe. Learn more about our whiteboard options for behavioral health facilities.