The JDI Group logo


A New Prototype Model for Mental Health Care

Mental wellness is a necessity in our society. Twenty-one percent of adults are experiencing at least one mental illness. That's roughly fifty million people. Fifty-five percent of adults with a mental illness have not received any treatment. Mental illness impacts forty-six percent of teenagers and thirteen percent of our children each year. Because of the alarming increase in mental health and the need for patient resources, healthcare providers must prepare for a better way of supporting this rising need.

In January 2023, the first build of a prototype for a new behavioral and mental health care model opened in Centralia, Washington. Focused on human-centered design, the core of the new care model provides space and support for patients to rehabilitate and leaves them better equipped before re-entering the community.

These innovations emerged from a plan outlined by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to reform the behavioral and mental health system and provide community-based care in smaller, 16-bed facilities. By doing so, care delivery could be shifted from large institutions, thereby improving access to care.  

Our goal is to outline some of the design strategies and key components of this new healthcare model being discussed by distinguished experts in recent webinars and put into practice with new facilities popping up around the US. Learning more about this new approach is advantageous to our local community as health systems need to prepare to provide better mental health care solutions to patients.

Key components of this new behavioral and mental health care model:

  • Understand how patient and staff experiences are improved by utilizing a human-centered design lens.
  • Utilize building design to incorporate a holistic focus on rehabilitation and self-reliance.
  • Balance a warm residential aesthetic with the practicalities of ligature-resistant environments – meaning using building materials that minimize the risk of suicide. The Joint Commission states that “It is not possible to remove all potential ligature risk points”. According to the New York State Office of Mental Health's Patient Safety Standards, Materials, and Systems Guidelines, Staff awareness of the environment, the hidden risks of that environment, and the behavior risks and needs of patients served in that environment is essential. Different healthcare facilities and patient populations will require greater or lesser tolerance for risk.
  • Integrate biophilic design and access to nature in order to improve patient experiences and outcomes.
  • Give patients more choice: Depending on the individuals’ need and stage in treatment, providing options on the location in the facility where they are most comfortable receiving treatment, where and how they spend their time, and connect with groups (large or small) is important in accepting treatment. Appreciate the importance of choice in maintaining patient dignity and safety.
  • Prioritizing safety through visibility, lack of hidden areas, staff connection, and ligature-resistant finishes – minimizing the risk of suicide attempts.
  • A calming, comfortable, home-like environment emphasizes a connection to daylight and the outdoors. Incorporating “nature” and natural elements aids in the healing process.
  • Design strategies to connect patients to nature elements can include secure outdoor spaces, using soft-surface turf, and nature-inspired interior spaces.
  • Implement design principles to promote a healing and sensory-friendly environment such as a soft color palette, nature-inspired wall art, lots of natural light, and a comfortable home-like sensation.
  • Identify safety considerations for inpatient mental health as it relates to furniture and materials.
  • Catering to gender and age groups: Each group should have its own separate wing, complete with distinct common areas and amenities including activity rooms, quiet spaces, day rooms, and outdoor spaces to further protect patient dignity and independence.
  • Equally important as design is the necessity for quality professionals to adequately care for the patients within this wellness facility. A full suite of mental healthcare specialists, including psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, music therapists, and others are key to the success of any mental health program.

To learn more about these new behavioral and mental health care model projects, dive into these profiles:,308228?'s%20Minnesota%20is%20pleased%20to,expanding%20to%20younger%20patients%20thereafter.

Other Healthcare Design Resources:

Funding Resources and Grants

  1. BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio PACE Financing - BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio (BBNWO) offers competitive fixed-rate Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for projects that focus on conserving energy and generating savings through energy efficiency retrofits to new and existing facilities. Eligible for new and existing buildings including industrial/manufacturing, commercial/retail, government/municipal, educational, healthcare, residential, and multi-family units. Eligible upgrades include lighting and building controls, HVAC, boilers and chillers, electrical distribution, power generation, and more. Please review the Lucas County Port Authority for more details. 

Key areas an architect/ engineer should be engaged to support commercial design

Site design or circulation for the building

Structural integrity

Façade improvements

Tenant Fit-outs

Electrical or mechanical upgrades

Building “change of use”

Building code compliance

Energy assessments or building envelope audits

The JDI Group can help with site, architectural, interior, and engineering design for Commercial Properties

Office - from single-tenant buildings to large corporate campuses

Retail - ranging from freestanding stores to multiple small shops in strip malls 

Industrial - properties including warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities

Multifamily - properties are often designed for multi-use purposes including retail, office, or restaurants

Hotel - including various types of lodging establishments, of which site design is a crucial component that developers require local support

Special Purpose - properties including healthcare facilities, educational institutions, churches, and entertainment venues

Project Experience

Confidential Plastic Surgery and Medical Aesthetics Practice

Toledo, OH
The JDI Group was engaged by a contractor to reimagine a cosmetic procedure suite. The project scope included expanding into an adjacent suite, with an interior fit-out renovation of approximately 1,170 SF to include three treatment rooms, one laser treatment room, equipment storage, a staff and doctor’s office, and a laundry services room.

The design included assistance with interior finish updates, including floor materials, paint, and new laminate casework in exam rooms, nurses’ station, and the reception desk. JDI also helped the physician group with ADA accessibility, lighting upgrades, and other general power updates.
Engineering and design work was provided by our team. JDI developed a permit-level drawing set, designs for electrical upgrades throughout the suite (given the service restrictions within the building and in coordination with other tenant service demands), and interior finish updates.

ProMedica Health Systems

Toledo, OH
ProMedica had a new tenant for Suite 980 of its Conrad Jobst Tower on the Toledo Hospital campus in Ohio. The 2,000 SF suite required an update of finishes and lighting for the new tenant. In order to make the suite ADA-compliant, the project needed to also allow for a restroom redesign.

JDI provided a permit-level set of drawings suitable for the construction of the renovation.

Mercy Health - St. Rita's Medical Center

Lima, OH
St. Rita’s Medical Center has been improving quality health care to the people of Lima and west central Ohio since 1918.
The overall goal of this project was to improve the patient experience by creating an open and welcoming atmosphere.

The design of this project was based around a day in the life of a therapist: how they treat patients and how they work. The old space lacked square footage and organization. Suite 255 was dark, outdated, and closed off. The waiting room area was too large and left little room for a receptionist and patient check-in desk. Other issues included lack of treatment rooms for multiple discipline therapies, adequate storage space for personal belongings, and designated “clean’ and “dirty” rooms for an improved sanitation process for therapy instruments and tools.

The JDI Group transformed the space by updating the interior finish to include rubber floor tiles for the gym and treatment rooms, new paint, and laminate casework and storage units. The waiting room was modified to include a receptionist desk for patient check-in, and an additional designated staff space was added for providers to have access to a quiet space for charting and access to the waiting room. The team created therapy gym space with ample storage and designated floor space for equipment and areas for ceiling and wall hung units. An existing toilet was converted for staff only use, and another toilet was added for ADA patients and families.
The transformation of Suite 255 allows for more patients to be seen and improves the overall design, function, and layout of the space.