Research shows that nearly half of adults and children dealing with a mental or behavioral health condition are not receiving the care or resources they need. Isolation, loss, illness, unemployment and more resulting from the pandemic has created an even more urgent need for mental health care and resources. Sheppard Pratt's new Behavioral Health Hospital aims to address these needs on its Baltimore/Washington campus and sets an example for other organizations across the country.
The 85-bed facility honors nature as part of the healing process and offers inpatient and outpatient mental health services for adolescents and adults. Spaces were designed to engage with woodland surroundings to provide opportunities to connect with nature. Located in an area of rapid development and close to mass transit and interstates, the hospital makes a broad swath of mental healthcare services more accessible to nearby communities.
Drawing inspiration from the forest helped realize the goal of creating a calming, welcoming space. Interior courtyards and exterior pathways offer a variety of opportunities for connecting with the nearby hills, hollows, creeks and wetlands while maintaining patient privacy and safety.
Fostering community and belonging for all of those who enter the facility was an overarching goal of the project. Because Sheppard Pratt is a large and sprawling facility, the interiors break down its size by turning each patient unit into an identifiable neighborhood. Each unit has a designated color, icon and name inspired by areas of Maryland to create a smaller community within and bolster a sense of belonging.
And just as the trees create a symbiotic ecosystem, the various environments within evoke support and protection. All areas of the hospital flow seamlessly into one another, based on adaptable design considerations for the level of safety needed in each space. Even the furniture design is the same throughout the building, just adapted to levels of risk. Ceiling elements imitate tree canopies, providing a feeling of protection in larger, open spaces. Wood battens on the lobby wall conjure the image of a cluster of trees standing strong together, similar to mental health patients’ reliance on community support during their time in the building.
A wide range of services are provided on this new campus, including psychiatric urgent care, a service that was not previously offered in the area that will reduce strain on nearby emergency rooms. The hospital includes an adolescent unit for patients ages 12 through 17 who require crisis stabilization in an inpatient environment, as well as adult inpatient units. Several multi-functional day treatment program areas are available for outpatient needs.
This will have a positive impact on hospitals in the region by easing the strain placed on their emergency departments. Further, this hospital, as part of the larger Sheppard Pratt organization, will have access to the hundreds of programs and services we offer throughout the state and virtually.Dr. Harsh Trivedi President and CEO, Sheppard Pratt
Furthermore, the design team advocated for an evolution from simple landscape preservation to full environmental reinvention that promotes biodiversity. This led to the creation of a multi-sensory experience that supports the healing process and introduces a new paradigm in behavioral health design that provides an environmental strategy for addressing the growing mental health crisis with the healing effects of nature.
1 in 5 adults
experience a mental illness annually
1 in 6 youth
ages 6-17 experience a mental disorder each year
1 in 8
emergency room visits involve mental illness or substance use
people live in a designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area