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Fourth Design and Health Symposium: Transforming Mental Health Care Through Design

Course Description

Presented by the Master of Healthcare Design Program at Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in five individuals experience one type of mental illness. The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a sharp increase in anxiety and depression cases in 2020 (WHO). Due to the potential safety risks to staff and patients (e.g., self-harm, suicide) in mental health facilities, interventions for safety of patients and staff, which is of utmost importance, should be holistic, with the physical environment as a primary contributing component. Examples of the role of the physical environment include but are not limited to layout design and visibility, lighting fixtures, ceiling systems, mirrors, and hardware. While prioritizing physical safety is a critical starting point in mental health facilities, it should not be the only focus or endpoint. Enhancing healthcare experience and actively empowering patients can be achieved by designing therapeutic environments that promote personal empowerment and preserve patient dignity. Therapeutic design involves creating environments that contribute to patients’ healing process and enhance psychological well-being through environmental design that reduces stress using light, color, and sensory elements. This symposium gathers professionals in allied fields who can offer insight into the betterment of mental health facilities. Open to healthcare providers, architects, and designers, this symposium will explore how design can help streamline and improve upon the delivery and efficacy of mental health care, leading to improvements in healing, safety, and experience of patients and staff.



Learning Objectives:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the mental and mental health facilities and users
  2. Recognize the role of the design in supporting or hindering safety and therapeutic experience within the mental health facilities
  3. Identify design solutions to overcome challenges in mental health facilities along with challenges to their implementation
  4. Identify the current evidence-based design practices and recommendations for mental health facilities


  • Peter D. Mills Ph.D., MS.: Psychologist, NCPS Field Office
  • Shary Adams, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, LEED AP:  Mental and Behavioral Health Practice Co-Leader, CannonDesign
  • Stephen Parker, AIA NCARB:  Senior Associate, Stantec

Click here for registration.

3 CEUs


EDAC Course ID:
April 19, 2023
Class Frequency: