Design Guide for the Built Environment of Behavioral Health Facilities

The Design Guide is co-authored by James M. Hunt, AIA, NCARB, president of Behavioral Health Facility Consulting, and David M. Sine, ARM, CSP, CPHRM, president of SafetyLogic Systems. The document addresses the built environment for adult inpatient behavioral health care units.

The baseline, or fundamental, requirements for designing behavioral health facilities appear in the FGI Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities. The Design Guide provides much more detail and best practices for protecting patients and staff as identified through the authors’ years of practice in the field.

It does not discuss the additional concerns that must be addressed when designing behavioral health facilities for child and adolescent patients, patients with medical care needs, geriatric patients, or some patients with diagnoses such as substance abuse and eating disorders.

Information is included about products that have been found to be more safe for use in the behavioral health built environment, while recognizing that no product is entirely without risk.

The Design Guide is not intended as a replacement for regulatory requirements nor to be employed as a legal “standard of care.” Its content is provided to augment the fundamental design requirements for behavioral health facilities and to help providers and design teams develop physical environments that support safe and effective behavioral health services.

The Design Guide is updated periodically. Please return to this page occasionally to make sure you are referring to the most current edition.

(Updated March 2017)

For more information about the design of behavioral health facilities, see the FGI white paper Common Mistakes in Designing Psychiatric Hospitals by the same authors.

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