Our vision is that mental healthcare takes place in environments that bring hope; are comfortable, therapeutic and appropriate to those who use them.
In 2005 the Department of Design at a UK university had been collaborating with staff and clients in a mental health NHS trust in order to design and refurbish acute and low secure in-patient units. During this period many health professionals said that they were often asked to contribute to refurbishment and new builds with little design knowledge of their own. On the other hand, designers wanted more understanding of mental illness and the needs of mental health service users with whom they may be working. Service users and carers wanted to know how they can best contribute when they are asked to give advice.
A group of these people decided to facilitate a network for designers who particularly focus on mental health care settings. The Department of Design at the University funded a two year project which sought to develop the network. Called the Think Project, it aimed to raise issues and cause those involved in design to think about the effects and impact of design in mental health care settings as well as promoting thoughtful approaches to designing products used in these settings. Three annual conferences, several site visits, regional meetings, an educational collaboration with another university School of Architecture, exhibition stands and workshops, presentations at other conferences and this website all resulted. Following the end of the Think Project, the name Designers for Mental Health Care Settings Network was adopted and later shortened to the current title.
Our annual Conference and Exhibition and our Better Bedroom Initiative occupy the limelight today and will continue as major workstreams. Meanwhile we are making plans for DIMHN activity to build on the interest we have from outside the UK and to form groups, hold events and build sample Better Bedrooms in other parts of the world. We are investigating partnering with other organisations to formulate more meaningful standards and test products and designs against them. We are strengthening our educational and industry links. Alongside all this we are looking at ways of involving people on a human scale in participating in the network and steering it to meet their needs.
Our conference will be held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham on 16 and 17 May, 2017. For more information and to book your place go to: www.designinmentalhealth.com
If you care about the role that environment plays in recovery, your involvement with the DIMHN can be part of ensuring that progress and innovation are at the forefront of change.