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Creating Spaces that Combat Rise in Mental Health Concerns

Whether it be the pandemic, coursework, social schedules, or simply a lifestyle change, students need space to decompress. Because of this, universities and schools are beginning to revamp spaces in order to provide students with areas that will help reduce anxiety and allow for stress-relieving activities like yoga, scripture studies, or personal reflection.

The recent uptick in mental health concerns among the education community is the driving force behind the need to transform these spaces. The National Education Association reports that instructors, staff, and students are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, stress, and burnout due to the pandemic1. In fact, CDC data reveals that COVID-19 increased mental health-related emergency visits for 12-17-year-olds by 31%.

Follow along as we outline how to create spaces for your students to use in order to better manage their mental health and have a more successful school year. 

Indoor Spaces 

Within the walls of the school, it’s important to make students feel at home so they can reach their full potential. You can make an impact on your students’ mental health by just giving them a safe space to relax and regroup while at school.

Materials & Finishes Send Strong Messages 

When creating a space for students to meditate and regain control of their mental health, avoid stark white, institutional gray, and bland beige colors as well as neon intensities—these can serve as sensory triggers for some. Instead, consider using cool colors such as shades of blue, green, and purple with small pops of color. A great way to incorporate these pops of color is by adding colorful furniture to the room.

The “Brave Room” 

An elementary school in Kentucky believes that when students are comfortable, they are more productive and confident throughout the school day. School administrators are tasked with making sure students are supported in this way. This particular school created what they call the “Brave Room,” which is a safe space for students that is set up next door to the counselor’s office. Teachers and staff on proper use and procedures for this room each school year to ensure it is being used as intended.

Outdoor Spaces 

A focus on outdoor spaces picked up speed when time outside became a preferred and safer alternative to indoor activities during the pandemic. Time Magazine shared in an article that spending time outdoors, even as little as 20 minutes, is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness3. Even the medical community is beginning to view outdoor spaces as a way to help their patients physically and mentally. This is already key for universities, but it is now an important initiative in K-12 schools as well.

Key Components for Functional Outdoor Spaces:

  • Common areas where students can gather for socializing and individual/group studying
  • Anti-glare materials
  • Shelter to keep students out of the elements
  • Technology (outlets, electricity, Wi-Fi) 
  • Collaboration tools (i.e. whiteboards, etc.)

Create Safe Spaces for Students with Cooperative Purchasing

Kimball International is a leading omnichannel commercial furnishings company with deep expertise in the industry. From our family of brands, Kimball and National are proud suppliers of OMNIA Partners, Public Sector. Our cooperative contracts are open to any organization that exists for the public benefit, including state, city, and local government, higher education, K-12 education, and non-profits. Visit Kimball or National to learn how to combat mental health concerns and implement safe spaces in your school today!



Check out our recent blog series about how OMNIA Partners helps you achieve deeper discounts on furniture purchasing.

1 NEA Report:

2 CDC Report:

3 Time Magazine Article: