What is behavioral health furniture? Well, the short answer is that it’s furniture that’s specially designed for mental and behavioral health-related facilities. For example, one might find it in rooms intended to treat psychiatric patients. On a functional level, this furniture has some defining traits.
One of the most important aspects is that it heavily favors rounded corners over sharp edges. Behavioral health settings, by definition, are going to have quite a few people with behavioral problems. The setting might include small children exploding with energy. Anyone who’s banged a knee on a sharp table edge can attest to how much it hurts. It’s even worse if someone has directed considerable energy into the action. Smoother corners will help to minimize this problem.
The furniture may be protected by aluminum and steel reinforcement. This ensures that just as people are protected from furniture, so is furniture in turn protected from people. The reinforcement helps in a few different ways. The most obvious is that one can’t easily dent or damage furniture which has been reinforced with metal. But there’s also an additional level of protection from the metal’s weight. This makes it considerably more difficult for a person to lift up the furniture and throw or topple it.
There is another factor shared by most furniture found in healthcare settings. HAIs, or Hospital Acquired Infections, is a serious concern in healthcare facilities. It’s not a danger limited to hospitals either. Despite the name, one should consider this in any setting related to patient treatment. The intent of HAI awareness is to decrease the chance of transferring infections between two people. Basically in the case of furniture, there’s always a chance of it acting as a vector for transferal. Bacteria can stay alive and remain pathogenic on many types of furniture.
Furniture designed for healthcare settings should be able to decrease disease transmission. Sometimes this can happen from the material used to construct furniture. But other times one needs to put special work into the furniture or its casing. Topical coverings can work quite well. But antimicrobial protection which permeates the entire shell will typically last for a decade or more. While doing so the furniture can actually destroy microbes rather than just helping to slow their transmission.
Finally, there’s an element to this particular type of feature which is extremely important. There is the calming effect of circular and non-angular designs. Angular designs have a lot of edges. Harsh edges can put people on edge. But a circular design allows one to just settle into the design. It can influence people’s vision as well. People tend to let their gaze follow circular patterns. And this can help patients calm down rather than letting them focus on a single point. The effect is to bring the room together as a calming whole.