Designing better mental healthcare facilities

Overcoming the barriers to equal access for all

Giving a first day keynote presentation at June’s Design in Mental Health 2022 conference, Sarah Hughes, CEO of the Centre for Mental Health, discussed what she argued were some of the key priorities for designing a mental health system that offered equality of access to all, and some of the major barriers that need overcoming to achieve this.

Speaking in an early afternoon conference slot on 8 June at DiMH 2022 – which was held at the Coventry Building Society Arena from 8-9 June this year – Sarah Hughes was introduced to the audience by Chair Emeritus of the Network, Jenny Gill, as ‘a leader in global health, gender equality, and justice, who has been involved in mental health and criminal justice for 30 years’. Having originally trained as a social worker, she continued to develop her skills and knowledge, and subsequently managed a range of ‘innovative’ community and secure services. Currently undertaking a professional doctorate with the Tavistock and Portman Centre, studying ‘Women, Resilience, & Leadership’, she led the research and evaluation of the ‘pioneering’ ‘First Night in Custody’ project in Holloway Prison, which subsequently saw the rollout of the principles across the prison estate. 

Independent ‘think-tank’

As Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health, an independent, notfor-profit ‘think-tank’ ‘dedicated to eradicating mental health inequalities and fighting injustice by changing policy and practice’, Sarah Hughes works with the UK government and high-profile organisations on mental health policy and practice. She holds trustee and board positions for organisations including the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership, Agenda Alliance (for Women & Girls at Risk), the Association of Mental Health Providers, the Football Association, and City Mental Health Alliance.

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