Designing better mental healthcare facilities

‘World-first’ product testing scheme launched

During the recent 2021 Mental Health Awareness Week, BRE and the Design in Mental Health Network launched what they believe is a ‘world-first’ testing scheme for construction products used in mental healthcare facilities.

Two of the initiative's key aims are to offer vulnerable service-users more protection from self-harm, and provide environments more conducive to recovery. The scheme offers comprehensive testing guidance for materials, fixtures, and hardware, for use within mental healthcare facilities. The BRE and  DiMHN said: “Until now, there has been no global standard to assess the safety of products used in mental healthcare and treatment facilities. By introducing this scheme, built environment testing, research, training, and standards organisation, BRE, and the DIMHN aim to help protect people at their most vulnerable time. The scheme has been developed over five years with guidance from over 60 experts globally, led by a team in the UK.

BRE’s CEO, Gillian Charlesworth, said: “The pandemic has resulted in a sharp increase in people suffering from poor mental health. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that the construction, design, and healthcare industries work together to create safer environments for patients. BRE and DIMHN are proud to be at the forefront of this. As a world first, the Informed Choices scheme also represents the best of British innovation, with international manufacturers and healthcare providers looking closely at adopting this standard around the world.”

DiMHN Chair, Philip Ross, added: “We’ve created these standardised tests to allow people involved in creating these spaces to make more informed choices about the products within the building – better product selection, with great architecture, will keep patients and staff safe, and help foster better therapeutic relationships for a more sustaining recovery. With interest in this scheme from US and Australia, we believe this initiative can help millions of people at their most vulnerable time.”

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