Research and

Research and education

Welcome to the Research and Education Workstream of the Design in Mental Health Network. We are committed to the development of an evidence based resource, to inform decision making and improve experiences within mental health services. The work of the organisation and the ideas we promote are evidence backed. Around the world, there are numerous examples of good practice, trials and studies that we can learn from. Collecting the best relevant and practicable findings from research data is the responsibility of the work stream headed by Professor Paula Reavey and Jeff Bartle.

A recent piece of work has been the production of a brochure for the DiMHN conference. This is an overview of research and provides a high-level snapshot of relevant findings suitable for a target audience of busy designers and practitioners. We highlight the key issues, the established ideas and those that are just emerging and include information relating to patient and staff experiences.
Talking about the task, Professor Paula Reavey, Professor of Psychology, Honorary Research Consultant: St. Andrew’s Healthcare, Course Director, MSc Mental Health and Clinical Psychology Director for Postgraduate Research: School of Applied Sciences, said, ‘Research is going on all over the world and keeping track is hard work. That sounds negative, but it’s not – we should be celebrating the amount of interest there is in the connections between design and mental health. It’s a lot of leg work, but it’s worth it.’

A copy of the report is available to members in the members’ area.  If you are not a member why not join now? Email

Design with People in Mind: A Review of the Evidence – Update January 2018

In Spring 2017, Design in Mental Health launched a research brochure, showcasing key evidence relating to mental health and the built environment. In this more comprehensive review of the literature, we have assembled evidence from psychology, nursing, psychiatry, architecture and design, to explore the relationship between environments and people. Our purpose in doing so is simple: we want to provide a weightier research repository, so that all members of the DiMH network can access key information, to inform decision-making.

In this report, we provide a comprehensive, rather than exhaustive review of current evidence and thinking on a number of topics relevant to built environments. We examine a wide range of spaces found in care settings, where people live and work, including bedrooms, seclusion, nursing stations and ward areas. In addition, we consider the effects of those spaces on emotion and behaviour, as well as consider their overall impact on well-being and recovery. We know care settings can be challenging, so we have balanced coverage of patient or service user perspectives, with broader issues relevant to risk and safety management. Most importantly, we have endeavoured to examine how spaces might work to increase choice, restore hope, and simply make people feel better.

A copy of the report is available to members in the members’ area.  If you are not a member why not join now? Email


  • To develop a systematic research repository containing an up to date and comprehensive list of empirical research papers relating to all aspects of design in mental health
  • To produce a review of all research undertaken in the area of design and mental health that covers design, the built environment and the sociological and psychological aspects of mental health care provision
  • To generate an easy to access research brochure to be delivered to conference delegates at the annual conference, which includes information relating to patient and staff experiences, as well as identifying needs for future research in all aspects of design in mental health care provision
  • To generate an easy-to-access research brochure to be delivered to delegates at the annual conference.