Designed by Woods Bagot, the St Vincent's Private Hospital Young Adults Mental Health Unit, in Sydney, is an Australian first that embraces design principles to stimulate the repair and restoration of a youth's mental health.
"The design of the centre reinforces a healing environment with limited boundaries and flexible spaces, to create a refuge for young people at a time in their lives when mental health issues can arise for the first time," said Alan McMahon, Senior Interior Designer, Woods Bagot.
The health unit will provide a centre that caters specifically for private mental health patients from 16 to 30 years of age. The facility uses a number of elements to create an identity of spaces which adolescents can identify with.
"The facility will provide treatment in a non-threatening and open environment which will reduce the need for this age group being admitted into adult facilities. The design aspiration was to ensure that calm and legible surroundings that encourage a community feeling to inspire confidence were injected into the space," said Dr Peter McGeorge, of St Vincent's Private Hospital.
Located on the top two floors of the existing O'Brien Centre within St Vincent's Hospital, light and nature played an important part within the interior architecture, promoting natural light to penetrate into the depths of the building while maximising views over the city. Additionally, the facility uses a number of elements to create an identity of spaces which adolescents can identify with.
"Multi-functional spaces were created for an array of uses from the production of art and music, areas to meditate or dance; and are balanced with places to 'hang out', or cocoon like spaces to simply relax," said McMahon.
Constantly playing homage to 'evidence based design,' foundations such as the integration of art, colour and light create methods of positive distraction, and promotes a bright natural feeling around the facility with bursts of vibrant colour. Across the top two floors supporting consultation suites and facilities for a day program exist, as well as a unit with the capacity for twenty patients.
"It is now openly accepted that a well designed environment can assist greatly in the healing process so the aspiration for this project was to ensure calm and legible surroundings that encourage a community feeling to inspire confidence within the patients," continued McMahon.
Mental health is the single biggest health issue facing young Australians, with 75% of mental health problems emerging before the age of 25. Yet, the current mental health system has until now not been well resourced to provide responsive early treatment services.
"The new facility is designed to support young adults who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis or mood disorder before they become more severe or to review treatment at times of relative remission. In establishing this model of care we expect in the long run to contribute to better recovery outcomes for individuals and to provide improved support their families," continued Dr. McGeorge.