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Keck Medicine of USC – Student Mental Health Clinic

Keck Medicine of USC – Student Mental Health Clinic

Biophilic Design & Mental Health: Creating a healing and comforting patient experience in behavioral healthcare.

Nationwide, the need for mental health resources is critical, especially on college campuses. Though society strongly promotes mental and physical health and wellbeing, it is often difficult for students to find access to quality and affordable mental health care. The new student mental health clinic at USC will help reduce the wait times for counseling and reduce the number of students referred to off-campus therapists. The new clinic features a three-pod design made up of counseling rooms, vitals areas, and provider stations. This specific layout concept allows for increased efficiency of care, as well as promotes team-based clinical collaboration.

Design inspiration focused on encouraging authentic connections between nature and healing. Exposing patients and staff to varying wavelengths of natural light throughout the day promotes focus and creates balance. Key patient spaces and corridors were designed around existing windows to enhance health and wellness while reducing stress. In areas where natural light was unable to be accessed, curvilinear light soffits were specified to provide a soft and subtle wayfinding solution for users to navigate the clinical spaces. Wood panel walls in all waiting and sub-waiting areas provide for a warm and comforting space. The large curved wall in the main corridor served as a canvas for a living moss wall consisting of 100% preserved plant life. This vertical garden is easily maintained and provides an acoustic quality to the interior space.

These features allow USC to accomplish their objective of providing its students and staff with a comfortable, soothing environment where positive personal transformation can occur.

Key Project Features

  • Facility provides easily accessible mental health care services for all USC students and is located within the campus's Engemann Student Health Center.
  • A three pod design system for Counseling Rooms, Vitals Areas, and provider stations are implemented to increase efficiency of care and to promote team-based clinical collaboration.
  • A living wall of moss plants, LED fireplace, indirect cove lighting, and soft ceiling and flooring forms provide a soft, organic, and comfortable environment.