Inclusive and accessible design
Education

Mental health and the built environment

Every person has mental health. This health can ebb and flow every day, month, and year depending on what we are dealing with. The built environment around us has an important role to play in supporting good mental wellbeing.

This Mental Health Awareness Week our Head of Marketing, Laura Wigzell, and Inclusive Design Strategy Lead, Pareisse Wilson, are reflecting on why they became Mental Health First Aiders, and what this means to them.

 

Laura Wigzell, Head of Marketing

I became a Mental Health First Aider when I worked in a community in North London where people were going through some particularly tough situations. What I learned during this time was that, while it may manifest differently for different people, no one is immune from the highs and lows of life, and the stresses and strains that may create.

Having people to talk to and an understanding workplace culture can play a huge part in supporting good mental health. Some spaces can also make us feel energised or calm, while other may drain us.

When I joined Motionspot, I started to learn more about the science behind how the built environment can both positively and negatively affect mental and physical health. Taking an evidence-based approach based on lived experience and the latest research, Motionspot’s team of inclusive design specialists create spaces that embrace human diversity.

In the workplace, this means creating flexible and intuitive spaces that provide choice and support colleagues to thrive. There are so many elements, but it could be offering quiet spaces, better signage, or access to greenery and fresh air.

In people’s own homes too, having choice to create individual and uplifting spaces is crucial. Rather than clinical looking interiors and products that may have associations with hospitals, our Fine & Able customers so often tell us of the positive impact being able to create an accessible bathroom in a style they love has made to their mental wellbeing.

Pareisse Wilson, Inclusive Design Strategy Lead

I became a Mental Health First Aider last year to support people both at work and in my personal life through the challenging moments that life can present. My own wellbeing journey has been a culmination of leaning on my faith, and the support of others taking time to listen. I wanted to be there for others when they needed it most. The Mental Health First Aider course gave me the skills to care for people in an immediate mental health crisis and signpost them in the right direction of professional support that can be life-changing.

This year’s theme for mental health awareness week is about anxiety, which since the pandemic has been an increasing battle for many people.

In the last few years of working in the field of inclusive design, I’ve grown to appreciate how much our environment can exacerbate or reduce stress and anxiety. Small design features like providing information around a building to help someone navigate their way independently, through to providing planting and natural textures within the space can contribute to feelings of confidence and promote calm. These are just two of our core inclusive design principles that we consider in the design of environments to promote wellbeing and reduce anxiety.

Underpinning our ethos of designing accessible and inclusive spaces is our commitment to ensuring our own teams are thriving, too. Being a Mental Health First Aider, and other great initiatives at work, embodies our commitment to fostering a healthy and inclusive workplace for our team, clients, and the society we serve.

For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/