Environment’s impact on the mind
The Taranaki Retreat is researching the benefits the environment can have on people going through distress.
Taranaki Retreat’s project Keeping you Safe is one of six newly announced Curious Minds projects led by Venture Taranaki and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Taranaki retreat executive officer Jamie Allen says the inspiration for the project came through the Taranaki Retreat’s work with the community.
“There is so very often trauma involvement in people’s story and situation, and we are committed to doing all we can to increase awareness and understanding of the need for trauma-informed care in supporting people who are dealing with distress.”
He says many settings in which support interventions happen are simply not able to be sufficiently scoped to provide trauma-informed care at its best.
“They are often noisy, busy and chaotic places. Where we are supporting people residentially, we are passionate to provide that facility to people — because unless the environment looks, feels and is safe, then we cannot expect people to be able to
heal and recover.”
Jamie says for the project, Taranaki Retreat is aiming to learn from the people who access their care, what is helpful and unhelpful.
“We are looking at this in environmental terms such as buildings, signage, rooms, layout, basically the
whole sensory experience. From there we will be able to not only to improve our support premises accordingly — but also to provide a resource to any other organisation aiming to provide trauma-informed care.”
He says the research will combine
narrative, self-reflective work, coupled with examining physiological measures of stress.
“As a participatory science project, those involved in its production and design are also involved as participants, and we expect that
everybody involved will be learning
and growing through this opportunity.”
To complete the project, Taranaki Retreat is working with WITT and Health New Zealand.
“We expect the outcomes will assist in the provision of, for example, clinical environments where people dealing with distress, are received, supported and cared for. We are hoping that it will make a huge difference and, particularly, contribute to our goal of suicide prevention.”