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The New Horizons Crisis Stabilization House has been architecturally designed and constructed based on the premise that the physical environment has a significant therapeutic benefit in the treatment of mental disorders. A recent article in the New York Times reported that:
“Research into the health effects of natural and man-made surroundings is spurring the development of psychiatric facilities that feel more residential and welcoming.
For decades, psychiatric hospitals were grim settings where patients were crowded into common rooms by day and dorms at night. But new research into the health effects of our surroundings is spurring the development of facilities that feel more residential, with welcoming entrances, smaller living units within larger buildings and a variety of gathering spaces. Nature plays a big role: Windows provide views of greenery, landscapes decorate walls, and outdoor areas give patients and staff access to fresh air and sunlight. (Emphasis supplied.)
The new approach, promoted as healing and therapeutic, has produced environments that are more calming and supportive. And it feels particularly timely, given the surge in mental health issues created by the pandemic.
For instance, exposure to nature has been shown to lower cortisol levels, a measure of stress. Adding healing gardens and other greenery can help soothe agitated patients and give staff a place to decompress.
Research specific to mental health care settings is also coming into play. Studies have shown that reducing crowding by providing private rooms and multiple communal spaces (emphasis supplied) may lessen patient and employee stress and aggression. Lowering noise — eliminating unnecessary beeping of medical equipment, for example — can also help. If patients are less stressed, they may make faster and more lasting progress during treatment, experts say.”
Jane Margolis, A New Tool in Treating Mental Illness: Building Design, The New York Times, Jan. 5, 2021. Retrieved 3.24.2021 from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/business/mental-health-facilities-design.html
Research shows that color is an important consideration when it comes to designing spaces in behavioral health. The objective is to provide “a warm, therapeutic environment that is never overwhelming”. “The color shouldn’t really jump out… It should create a feeling of light, happiness, and beauty in the space. No individual colors should be too strong.”
Accent colors that are optimal for mental health facilities include: pastel hues of blue and green; warm purple or violet; warm yellow and orange; and taupe.
“Pastel colors are some of the most beautiful colors for the environment as they have a richness of color yet conveyed in a way that is soft and comforting…Using a pastel color that is rich and not too light or dark could create an accent wall that has the right degree of presence and subtle differentiation from adjoining off-white, non-accent walls.”
Alicia Hoisington – How to effectively use color in treatment facilities Behavioral Healthcare Executive, August 02, 2017 retrieved 3.28.2021 from https://www.psychcongress.com/article/facility-architecture/how-effectively-use-color-treatment-facilities.
The type of thinking and findings reflected in the above articles led us to create and build an aesthetically beautiful facility that is spacious, with a variety of gathering and communal spaces, serene, with plenty of windows, with beautiful interior décor, and incorporating greenery.