Designing better mental healthcare facilities

Nature’s therapeutic benefits outlined in new guide

'The Nature Issue', the fourth in a series of ‘Design with People in Mind’ booklets published by the Design in Mental Health Network to date, takes a broad-ranging look at the ‘multi-sensorial’ therapeutic benefits of nature on the well-being and recovery of those with a range of mental healthcare issues. Once again co-authored by Professor Paul Reavey, Professor of Psychology at London South Bank University (LSBU) and lead of the DIMHN’s Research and Education workstream, and Katharine Harding, an associate at Conran and Partners and doctoral researcher at LSBU, the guide is based on ‘a summary of evidence’, and considers the way in which nature impacts on how people behave, ‘contributing to the overall atmosphere and management of healthcare environments’. While acknowledging that space and funding constraints can preclude the provision of large outdoor areas for service-users and staff in some mental healthcare settings, the introduction says evidence suggests that ‘access to even small amounts of nature’ can reduce stress and aggression for many, which can in turn increase safety and ‘perhaps facilitate ‘less risk-averse’ practices.

The authors say the ‘biophilic position’ on recovery ‘further emphasises the importance of connecting the individual with nature’, stressing that that ‘much can be done to encourage feelings of relaxation, positive mood, physical wellbeing, and a greater sense of connection with others through natural environments'. They describe the booklet as ‘an approachable way to learn about the relevant evidence’.

Topics covered in an informative and attractively illustrated publication include:

  • Nature and vitality;

  • Therapeutic nature;

  • The nature of trees;

  • Active in nature;

  • Wild in nature;

  • Healing with nature;

  • Walking in nature;

  • The nature of water;

  • Designing with nature;

  • A sense of nature.







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