Fractured minds to flourishing minds
Youth suicide and self-harm are major public health concerns worldwide. The high rate of youth suicide and intentional self-harm in New Zealand, illustrates that there is a large amount of youth experiencing severe mental illness, as mental illness corresponds to suicidal/harmful behavior. Although more youth are seeking and receiving help, a large portion who are suffering are unwilling to engage in services, due to stigma surrounding mental health. Characteristics of the built environment can effect wellbeing and therefore architecture holds significant implications for the mental health of individuals. Inpatient environments are an effective intervention for the treatment of a range of severe mental illnesses, however there is a definitive lack of acute inpatient facilities for youth in New Zealand. A shift in the way mental healthcare services are provided has meant that large psychiatric hospitals have been closed or downsized and compulsory inpatient treatment has given way to voluntary engagement with community mental health services. This has not eliminated the need for inpatient care and there still remains a need for these highly specialized environments. These current specialized environments are generally not designed to benefit the mental health and wellbeing of patients, but are just regarded as settings in which recovery takes place. This thesis aims to explore how architecture can act therapeutically to support the wellbeing of individuals suffering mental illness. It looks at how architecture can retain the dignity of these patients, and challenge conventional norms of prior mental healthcare environments. This thesis aims to integrate Maori and Pacific models of health and wellbeing in order to allow improved care and treatment for Maori and Pacific groups. It responds to the lack and unsuccessful architectural responses for youth in New Zealand and in particular, the central region and aims to design a new mental health inpatient and outpatient facility specifically for youth suffering mental illness.