March 7, 2022

Reasons To Be Cheerful Celebrates Community Focused Design of Strawberry Hill Behavioral Health Hospital

Reasons To Be Cheerful, a nonprofit editorial project focused on inspiring hope, has published a new piece celebrating the community-focused design of The University of Kansas Health Strawberry Hill Behavioral Health Hospital.

The article highlights how Strawberry Hill is located and designed to be a positive agent for the community, spurring social and economic development in the heart of Kansas City’s urban core. The building is at the leading-edge of a new trend in which “new facilities like Strawberry Hill exhibit a new way of thinking, one in which mental health facilities are seen not as a risk or a burden to the surrounding community, but a potential boon, bringing with them the social and economic benefits that any medical hospital would – while helping to de-stigmatize mental health care in the process.”

Strawberry Hill helped bring more jobs and people into downtown Kansas City, spurring the opening of a new grocery store and other commercial efforts. The Reasons To Be Cheerful piece paints a picture of the the associated positive impact: “For a long time, the neighborhood of Strawberry Hill has struggled with vacant lots, derelict buildings and street crime. The very building the new mental health facility is housed in, in fact, had been abandoned for years. Now, it’s bustling with hundreds of workers, and the neighborhood around it is slowly coming back to life. The new grocery store, opened in what was once a food desert, is a prime example.

“We know that a healthy diet is part of keeping ourselves healthy,” Lauren Lucht, executive director of mental health for the TUKH shares. “My motto is: Mental health is health. And until we start thinking of mental health as being one component of our overall health care, we continue to silo things out in a very unhealthy way.”

Our Stephanie Vito is also quoted in the piece. At one point, she talks about how the building is designed to connect patients and staff with the outdoors, to connect them with the therapeutic benefits of nature. “We took advantage of the building’s central atrium, and we actually brought greenscape and nature and plans from the ground level all the way up vertically within the building. It helped ensure nature had a three-dimensional quality in the space.”

The full Reasons To Be Cheerful article is available online. Here’s one additional excerpt:

On how Strawberry Hill activates new health and treatment opportunities
Clinical Manager Stacie Stoltz, who has worked in mental and behavioral health for over 30 years, says treatments are as forward-thinking as the facility’s central location. Each patient is assigned to a psychiatrist, mental health therapist and licensed case manager. Everyone also receives a variety of “expressive therapies” such as art, music and recreational therapy, as well as individual, group and family talk therapy. This is a dramatic change from just six years ago, Stoltz says. “The programming at the old facility was really heavily emphasizing medications and psychiatric treatment … with some support from the psychology groups that they were getting once a day.”