Workshop Seminars

11:00 - 12:00

DrawnOut! Mental Health Sketch Workshop

This interactive workshop revolves around the stories of an architectural designer and her lived experience and a healthcare planner whose family experienced a loved one in crisis and the ripple effect on their lives. Through the lens of sketching of the inpatient psychiatric units both experienced as both patient and visitor, they share best practices and evidence-based design strategies for mental health environments. Participants are paired off and given an empathy exercise to help mitigate bias and built a rapport around a patient persona experiencing post-partum depression. The paired participants use these collective inputs to sketch a visitation suite, typically the only area of inpatient psychiatric hospital the public can experience. These sketches are shared in a rapid fire, round-robin style crit that fosters an open dialogue around stigma, design and hope. Together we can defy stigma by design. This workshop has been featured 4 times in North America, with each batch of sketches collected for a future exhibit.


14:30 - 15:30

Workshop: Informed Choices – How Do I Choose the Right Safety Level of Product For My Patient Group?

A workshop for clinicians and people pledging support to the take up of the Informed Choices testing standard. Discussing the new CQC and Nursing Directorate guidance for ligature reduction in mental health settings in the light of the Informed Choices testing standard.


16:00 - 17:00

It’s No Fun Getting Older

In this interactive workshop we help designers experience the world from the perspective of an older person and one who is living with dementia. Using aids including a gerontology ageing suit and prompts (including feeding attendees chocolate) we explore how we experience and navigate buildings and complete tasks when our body and mind are receiving information differently and processing it in a different way to that of our younger years.


11:00 - 12:00

Design for All

Altro and Floyd Slaski Architects have been working together in the last year to look at how to innovate the product selection process to help and identify Neurodiverse-friendly and Dementia-friendly palette of products on the basis of evidence based researches.

Altro has been running a series of successful workshops on 'Design for All' and neurodiversity friendly design principles.

Following a short presentation of main key principles, the workshop will explore how to apply these principles to different settings, such as hospitals, residential units, schools and higher education.

Product swatch samples will be available to complete a colourful and meaningful mood board.

Have you ever consider what a day to day journey mean for people with hidden disabilities? The workshop will help to understand and look at the design from a different sensorial perspective.

The presentation will focus on covering designing spaces with autism, neurodiversity, aged care and hidden disabilities in mind:

• impact of the layout,

• colour scheme and

• acoustic environment

• Working with stakeholder and specialist consultants

• Overcoming the challenge of working within an existing environment


14:00 - 15:00

Redefining Assistive Equipment as Personalized Empowerment Tools

The intersection of design and mental health is a realm of immense potential. In today's world, assistive equipment is often associated solely with functionality and healthcare. However, this workshop aims to challenge this paradigm by shifting the focus from creating mere devices to crafting personalized, user-centric solutions that foster a profound emotional connection between users and their assistive equipment. We believe that by infusing design principles into assistive equipment, we can empower users, improve their mental well-being, and ultimately, transform lives.


Challenge Assumptions: Encourage participants to question traditional notions of assistive equipment design, emphasizing that these tools can go beyond mere functionality to become extensions of a person's identity.

Empathy-Centered Design: Promote a human-centered approach by teaching participants to empathize with users, their unique needs, and their emotional journeys when using assistive equipment.

User Engagement: Explore strategies for creating products that users will connect with on a personal level, breaking down the stigmatization associated with assistive devices and fostering a sense of pride and ownership.

Mental Health Impact: Examine the profound impact that personalized and empathetic design can have on the mental well-being of users, reducing feelings of isolation and enhancing self-esteem.

Workshop Content:

Understanding Mental Health: An introduction to the importance of mental health in design and its impact on user experience.

Human-Centered Design: Exploring principles of user-centered design, with an emphasis on empathy, inclusivity, and accessibility.

Design Thinking in Assistive Equipment: Applying design thinking methodologies to reimagine assistive equipment.

Personalization and User Engagement: Techniques for tailoring assistive equipment to individual preferences, needs, and styles.

Case Studies: Examining successful projects that have redefined assistive equipment and positively impacted users' mental health.

Collaborative Design: Hands-on exercises and group activities to apply workshop concepts and develop innovative ideas.

Expected Outcomes:
Participants will leave the workshop with a fresh perspective on design's potential to improve mental health through the creation of assistive equipment that is not just functional but deeply meaningful to users. They will gain practical skills in empathetic design thinking and user engagement strategies.

Target Audience:
This workshop is suitable for designers, engineers, healthcare professionals, and anyone interested in reshaping the landscape of assistive equipment design.

By reimagining assistive equipment as personalized empowerment tools, we can enhance the mental well-being of users, reduce stigma, and create a mo


  • Bruno Oro Assistant Professor - Iowa State University
15:00 - 16:00

Best Practice in Co-production And The Stakeholder Engagement Toolkit

Best practice in co-production and the Stakeholder Engagement Toolkit: what does good coproduction look like in the design process? A workshop discussion facilitated by Design in Mental Health’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel.



11:00 - 12:00

INFORMED CHOICES – Transparency Between Built Environment and Clinical Risk Management

Recognising the need for standardised product testing in the mental health built environment, DIMHN have been working for some years now on an independent testing solution in partnership with BRE – INFORMED CHOICES – a new global testing standard which gives a graded performance measure for use in mental health environments. Extensive research with the market, estates and clinician consultation have formed the backbone of this work, which is being launched formally at the conference.

To encourage adoption of the new standard, DIMHN will support education events, webinars and discussion points so that clinicians, specifiers and planners can make INFORMED CHOICES.

At the workshop INFORMED CHOICES – transparency between built environment and clinical risk management Emma Shakespeare, Senior Design Manager, Sir Robert McAlpine, Claire Iverson, suicide prevention lead at Merseycare and Vicky Taylor, interior designer at Knightsbridge Furniture and associate of the Network, will discuss the balance between managing risk through built environment, product, clinical, and service design. The Workshop will be an opportunity to share thoughts with peers on how to assess performance results and best practice using the new standard. Suitable for clinical teams, designers, manufacturers and architects.

Click here to book your place on this workshop


14:35 - 15:35

Mental Health on the High Street

1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, and the biggest current concern for these people is the problem with accessing support. Shortage of providers is now critical and staff burnout prevention has become a major concern. The workshop shall aim to look at means of making mental health support more accessible. The primary focus being to improve the social connection through MH cafes & creating healthy wellbeing spaces for patients and staff. Ensuring easy access with free wifi and levelling up home access to those in need. Exploring where the journey begins, and what means can be reviewed and enhanced to create better education and prevention. Investigating ways on how we can destigmatise Mental Health so that it is easily accessible to all.

Please register for a place on site

16:00 - 17:00

Designing Buildings for Truly Person-Centred Care – How Do We Create a New Standard for Inpatient Environments That Improves Each Individual’s Recovery?

We are all different. What makes each of us tick and feel able and well to tackle the challenges of the world is different. How to we find comfort and wellbeing away from home?

We know that personalised and flexible spaces are the result of choice and create the opportunity for individualised care and recovery. Having choice is a fundamental requirement of freedom that is often reduced or removed in In-patient environments. But mental health inpatient settings are regularly designed around a set of core spaces and standardised repeatable rooms, with limited resources focused on how we enable truly individualised care through the building itself.

The workshop will explore key components of a typical mental health ward, striving to define what makes good design appropriate for each of us, and how this can be achieved using innovative products and technologies.

Ideal attendees will include People with Lived Experience, Clinical Staff, Estates and Facilities Teams, and Designers, and will help inform a new best practice for in-patient care environments.

Outcomes will be summarised in a paper within 6 weeks of the workshop.

Please register for a place at the workshop on site

09:50 - 10:50

Environmental Considerations for ‘Autism Friendly’ Wards

Since early 2021, a team within Sussex Partnership have taken an in-depth look at what it means for acute adult mental health wards to be 'Autism Friendly'. The team used a fully collaborative process, with Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists and Experts by Experience (EbEs) working alongside ward teams, Trust Estates and Facilities, project management and contracted teams on planned ward refurbishments, as well as future projects within the Trust.

The project had three key elements of focus: Environment; Training and Practice. This workshop will focus on the Environmental element of the project, explaining the background to the project (why now? why at all?); our process; findings and recommendations and will challenge attendees to consider how this can apply to their own work in the future.

Environmental aspects - the physical and sensory experience of the ward - were the starting point of the project, and drove huge changes within the planned refurbishments to ensure that the Expert by Experience voice was at the centre of the project.
A sensory environmental audit tool was used to assess two acute adult mental health wards, and recommendations were made by clinicians and EbEs, alongside the most up to date rapidly expanding research, to improve the experience of admission for autistic service users.
The team ensured that incorporated decision making was central to the whole process and the impact of this has been reflected upon by all involved.
The project has produced various guidelines that suggest 'standards' for good practice for each of the project elements. Within this workshop we will share relevant items when considering the impact of sensory aspects of hospital ward environments for individuals who are autistic, and may have sensory sensitivities.
We hope that this workshop will empower attendees to re-think their preconceptions about the inclusive design process, EbE involvement and future project output to maximise benefit for those who are neurodivergent using mental health services, and how this can ultimately benefit all users.

• PowerPoint presentation - 2x in-person speakers (clinicians), with Expert-by-Experience support TBC
• Interactive talk
• Small group activity - to discuss how recommendations could be applied and what is one thing they will take away to use/reflections
• Feedback
• Individual reflection

Please register for your place at the workshop on site

11:00 - 12:00

Children and Young People: Designing for Diversity

Facilities for children and young people's mental health services need to accommodate a particularly diverse patient group. How do we do this well?

For example
The difference in maturity from someone 4 vs. 18 is significantly different, far greater than throughout working-adult age: 18 to 65. How do we create an environment that feels appropriate for all in this age group?

• The size of furniture, and height of fixtures and fittings vary depending on age and size.
• At earlier ages, children may not need to be separated by gender, however separation becomes necessary at older ages, as they become aware of their own sexual identity.
• There are a diverse range of patients within children and young people's mental health services with differing mental health needs. Learning disabilities vs. eating disorders, and acute vs. forensic services have quite different requirements, as do does the spectrum of neurodiversity and autism.

• How do we accommodate specific needs of this diverse group while retaining long term flexibility?
• Can we design something that caters for all needs without looking or feeling different?
• What is the right balance between dedicated facilities that address specific needs vs. shared facilities.
• How do we separate quite different patient groups within the same ward?

Book your workshop place on site.