Covid-19 has had an unprecedented effect on the physical wellbeing of thousands of people and is also having a huge impact on mental health. 

Philip Ross

Philip Ross

Doctors are predicting a tsunami of mental health referrals in the coming months as, up until now, many have delayed addressing these issues due to fear of infection and exacerbating healthcare professionals’ workloads.

A surge in referrals will lead to a greater need for resource and funding in this area. With an economic stimulus package likely on the horizon, it is to be hoped that investment in mental health will be included to help overcome this issue.

This will involve making the right decisions on what products will create the best spaces for recovery and have a lasting impact.

There are still nearly 1,000 mental health inpatient beds that use dormitory bedrooms, even though the government committed to single-patient bedrooms almost 20 years ago. Recovering from mental ill health without privacy is challenging; add coronavirus to the equation and you quickly realise there is an urgent need to increase capacity to eliminate the use of multi-bed inpatient accommodation.

The built environment can help by developing smarter ways of working when designing mental health treatment centres. ‘Informed choices: testing guidance for products in mental health facilities’ is guidance that places patient safety at the heart of building design, communicating product testing requirements to manufacturers and, perhaps most importantly, reducing the time for specifiers to assess these products. This increases capacity to think about what works best for those being treated in the environment.

Alongside other organisations’ calls to government for additional funding and resources, we hope to be able to alleviate the burden on health professionals.

Using an independent and reputable format to encourage innovation in the design of mental health treatment centres and ensure these environments are assessed for self-harm risks has been overlooked for far too long.

That’s why we’ve partnered with BRE to launch ‘Informed Choices: Testing Guidance for Products in Mental Health Facilities’.

Philip Ross is board director at Design in Mental Health Network