Positive design to aid wellbeing and recovery

2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic posed challenges for many individuals but those suffering from poor mental health had an even bigger struggle. A recent BBC documentary with Stacey Dooley explored the effects of COVID-19 on people living with mental health difficulties and the mental health units supporting them. A mental health nurse explained that “mental health relies on social support for recovery, people couldn’t see their friends and family - once you pull social support away it was a disaster”

With more and more people turning to the support of our NHS mental health services, this Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to highlight the importance of anti-ligature products, their design and how we work with safety in mind to help create calm spaces for a positive recovery. 

As presented in the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Mental Health's annual report (2019), “the commonest method of suicide by patients was hanging/strangulation, accounting for 714 patient deaths UK-wide in 2017, almost half (47%) of all patient suicides". These are clearly very saddening statistics but something the healthcare industry and other professionals need to be mindful of and try to prevent. Equally as important for those designing spaces suitable for mental health service users. 

Design matters 

Design in the mental health industry is crucial for recovery. As the Design in Mental Health Network (DIMHN) state, “design matters - it isn’t a nice to have, or an optional extra, but is vital to the well-being of everyone who works in or uses the services of the mental health sector”. As well as keeping service users physically safe and aiding recovery is of high importance too. Good design will also be considerate of the service user’s wellbeing and connection to their environment. 

DIMHN explain the importance of design in their guide ‘Design with People in Mind’, “connections between mental health and the natural environment have long been recognised and features of 19th-century asylum design which included providing views of natural landscapes from indoors and opportunities for patients to actively engage with nature were considered beneficial to the therapeutic process (Hickman, 2009)”.  Research suggests that finding a balance between the required levels of safety and creating homely non-sterile spaces should be a key consideration in mental healthcare design (Shepley et al., 2016).

Helping create safe and calm spaces 

What is a ligature? As explained in ‘A guide To Anti-ligature’ written by Contour, a ligature can be anything that binds or ties, for example, chains, linen, clothing, cords, tubing, etc and a ligature point is anything that could be used to attach or secure a ligature such as shower rails, coat hooks, water pipes, curtain rails, etc. Health Building Note 03-01: Adult acute mental health units states, as a rule, any fixture or fitting that could provide ligature support should safely break free under weight.

The YewdaleKestrel® range of blinds, curtain tracks and room accessories are carefully designed for high-risk environments, to simplify risk management in mental health settings and help keep service users safe. To aid recovery, the YewdaleKestrel® range looks and feels like any other non-anti-ligature product range - the magnetic fixings are key to their functionality as anti-ligature status. All products are designed to separate from their magnetic brackets when a certain amount of weight is applied (three strengths available). 

Although the YewdaleKestrel® range is designed to keep people safe, at Yewdale we understand the importance of making sure service users feel comfortable in their surroundings and that a positive, calm environment can aid recovery. In order to support this, we promote nature scenes being printed on our en-suite SafeDoors and offer soft comforting fabric colours for our window blinds to ensure an atmosphere of serenity. We also encourage NHS and mental health trusts to use backing plates within their rooms, these allow service users to have the independence of using accessories as they would in their home bathroom or bedroom but without the safety risk. 

Case studies: YewdaleKestrel® serving the healthcare industry 

One of our customers, President Blinds provided our YewdaleKestrel® anti-ligature tracking system within Hillingdon Hospital’s ITU ward. The track was installed to give service users privacy and independence when showering.
“We love working with Yewdale as their anti-ligature range is so simple yet so effective, which is crucial to many of our customers in the mental health industry. We’ve had positive feedback on the cubicle tracking, which provides an easy privacy solution and the backing plates safely mount accessories to the wall with no ligature point. They are both easy to re-install if pulled down or tampered with”. Neil Phillips, Managing Director at President Blinds 

Mental News images


Working with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Yewdale regularly supplies YewdaleKestrel® SafeDoor for their en-suite doors.  The anti-ligature doors are printed with an attractive, calming sea landscape – bringing nature inside and promoting a positive, calming environment for service users. 

Sussex Trust Safedoors

Yewdale’s range of anti-ligature products is used worldwide. Get in touch today to find out more and make the switch to the safest anti-ligature range available.