Mental health is the single biggest health issue facing young Australians, with 75% of mental health problems emerging before the age of 25. In an Australian first, global studio Woods Bagot and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney have embraced design principles that set out to stimulate the repair and restoration of a youth’s mental health.
The design of the Young Adults Private Mental Health Unit 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. Conceptual ideas materialised from interrogating the requirements for such a unit along with the drive to create a bespoke, non-stereotypical interior solution. Unseen in Australia, this will be the first health unit to provide a centre that caters specifically for private mental health patients from 16 to 30 years of age.
The design promotes a non-threatening and open environment which will reduce the need for this age group being admitted into adult facilities. The aspiration was to create calm surroundings that encourage a community feeling to inspire confidence. Using a number of elements to create a series of spaces the facility provides ‘hang out’ spaces for interaction, cocoon like individual ‘chill-out’ spaces and flexible spaces to promote a sense of familiarity and a ‘home away from home’.
These flexible multi-functional spaces are set to be used for activities such as the production of art & music, meditatation or dance; or spaces to simply relax. Light and nature also 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.
The design pays 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 with vibrant colour. In establishing this model of care, through design, St.Vincent’s Hospital expect in the long run, to contribute to better recovery outcomes for individuals and to provide improved support for their families.