Creating Healing Environments for Behavioral and Mental Health Wellness

A growing number of patients seeking care has prompted an increase in government funding to improve behavioral and mental health wellness services nationwide. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms in the U.S. quadrupled during the pandemic, affecting about 40% of adults, highlighting the urgent need for improved behavioral health infrastructure and services.

In response to the escalating mental health crisis, Ohio has strategically used funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioHMAS). This financial boost has accelerated the development and enhancement of behavioral health facilities across the state, ensuring residents have access to high-quality care. OhioMAS has played a crucial role in distributing ARPA funds and overseeing the implementation of various mental health initiatives, focusing on expanding crisis intervention services, enhancing telehealth capabilities, and increasing support for substance use disorder treatment programs.

+Detail is partnering with several counties across the state to design state-of-the-art behavioral health facilities tailored to each community's needs, including crisis stabilization services, pediatric inpatient services, and supportive housing.

By designing environments that foster connectivity and support, we are helping to build a more unified and effective system of care that addresses the diverse needs of individuals across the state. This approach not only improves the accessibility and quality of mental health services but also promotes a sense of community and continuity for patients as they navigate their care experience.

Empowering Patients through Thoughtful Design.

The art of weaving a tapestry, with each thread contributing to the overall masterpiece with its unique color and texture, creates an intricate interplay of variety and consistency, forming a connected whole while allowing individual uniqueness to shine through. When we think about patients on their journey to mental health wellness and the various experiences along the way, we look to those same principles: binding one's journey through consistency and predictability while considering each moment and the care provided, tailoring the design and architecture to support the emotional and physical state of each patient along the way.

Weaving Together a Cohesive Journey

The continuum of care in behavioral health involves a range of settings, from acute inpatient facilities to outpatient clinics, and from therapeutic community environments to supportive housing. Each of these environments addresses different needs and moments along the path to wellness. Despite their differences, they are united by common design principles that ensure a seamless transition for individuals through the various stages of recovery. Connectedness and familiarity create comfort, reduce stress, and build trust between care providers and patients, helping patients recognize they are in good hands and fostering a sense of safety.

Empowering Personalized Wellness

In the context of behavioral and mental health wellness, a 'therapeutic' environment holds a unique meaning for each individual. What may be soothing and calming for one person could feel mundane or even distressing to another. Artwork that sparks joy for someone might serve as a powerful emotional trigger for someone else. By empowering patients to tailor their surroundings to their personal preferences, they are granted the freedom to define what therapeutic means to them at any given moment. In practical terms, this means providing a solid foundation and consistent backdrops while allowing patients to personalize their environment through technology, lighting, artwork, and creating spaces for social interaction without mandating it. This approach ensures a stable setting while offering controlled opportunities for patients to modify their surroundings to enhance their comfort and well-being.

The gathering space for this Crisis Stabilization Unit is designed to balance flexibility and peer engagement. It features smaller, semi-private 'cocoon' spaces adjacent to more active areas, allowing individuals to feel connected to the communal environment without being overwhelmed. The space includes open areas for interacting with peers and care providers, as well as cozier, more secluded areas for retreat. All spaces are visible from central care provider pavilions, ensuring both accessibility and privacy.

In the communities we are partnering with to enhance behavioral and mental health services, the majority of our current projects create space for acute intervention services to relieve bottlenecks at the emergency department and divert people away from police stations.

Acute Intervention: Creating Safe Havens for Those in Crisis

These programs welcome individuals experiencing severe anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health challenges who often find themselves caught between emergency departments and police stations. Unlike these traditional options, which can exacerbate fear and panic, these healing environments are designed to enhance mental well-being and provide a calming, supportive space. They offer therapeutic activities, access to mental health professionals, and personalized support services aimed at fostering long-term well-being for both adults and children.

Creating a Welcoming Environment for Emergency Intervention
The design of this Behavioral Health Crisis Unit (BHCU) is intentionally simple and straightforward to foster a welcoming atmosphere. Each bay is thoughtfully separated, ensuring patients have their own space without feeling isolated. Despite this separation, the layout maintains full visibility of the communal area, which promotes social interaction and peer engagement. This balance of privacy and openness encourages a sense of community while respecting individual needs. The overall design prioritizes comfort and accessibility, making it an ideal environment for stabilization.
Creating Safe Havens for Those in Crisis
The architectural language of this Crisis Stabilization Unit thoughtfully mirrors that of the neighboring BHCU. This continuity in design ensures a seamless transition for patients who may move from one space to the next, providing a sense of familiarity and comfort. By maintaining consistent architectural elements, such as color schemes, materials, and layout, the space promotes a cohesive and reassuring environment. This approach not only enhances the aesthetic harmony between the two programs but also supports the therapeutic journey of the patients, reducing potential anxiety and fostering stability during their transition.

Residential Life: Improving Quality of Life by Creating Stable Housing Solutions

Temporary and permanent supportive housing provides stable homes for individuals who have been chronically homeless and are dealing with severe mental health conditions or substance use disorders. This housing is critical for breaking the cycle of homelessness and repeated hospitalization, offering a foundation for rebuilding lives. The temporary and permanent supportive housing design prioritizes a sense of safety, comfort, and community for its residents. These facilities incorporate private living spaces, communal areas for social interaction, and easy access to essential services such as healthcare and counseling, all structured to promote stability and facilitate long-term recovery. The thoughtful integration of these elements ensures that the housing meets basic needs and supports individuals' holistic well-being as they transition towards a more stable, independent life.

Illuminating Mental Wellness: Peg’s Gallery
Beyond our primary focus on patient care, we've partnered with Peninsula Architects on a project very close to our hearts: creating the Peg’s Foundation Gallery in Hudson, OH. This project honors the impact of art and beauty on mental well-being. The gallery is designed to be both an exhibition space and a sanctuary where the therapeutic power of art is celebrated and embraced. By fostering an environment of artistic expression, the Peg’s Foundation Gallery serves as a beacon of hope and healing for all who visit, offering a space where individuals can find solace, inspiration, and a renewed sense of well-being.

Read more about The Park Lane Project and Peg’s Gallery, opening Fall of 2024.


Contributing Towards a Brighter Future

At +Detail, our mission is to create environments that make everyone feel welcome, well-treated, and at ease. We believe in the power of thoughtful design to inspire positivity and well-being, especially within behavioral and mental health spaces. Through our work in design and architecture, we are one artisan of many weaving together a tapestry of care that honors the diversity of each patient's journey, ensuring that every person is valued and every journey is supported. Every building we design becomes a vital thread in the rich tapestry of mental health care, paving the way for a brighter, healthier future.


“4 Ways Design Can Improve Mental Health Care Spaces,” by Harsh K. Trivedi, MD, MBA, and Tim Rommel, AIA, MRAIC

“Designing Spaces for Behavioral and Mental Health Treatment,” By Sandra Soraci, EDAC, LEED AP, NCIDQ, and Kathy Price-Robinson

The Institute of Medicine’s Continuum of Care | SAMHSA

Mental Health Statistics And Facts