In the wake of the pandemic, many of the nation’s school districts are using ESSER and EANS funds to prioritize student mental health. That’s why it’s important to consider how a room’s furnishings and layout can impact a student’s mental outlook.
Research has shown that many interior (and exterior) design approaches can reduce stress and depression. Even basic changes to a room’s design – like using cool-toned colors or furnishings that promote collaboration – can make a big difference to a student’s well-being.
Explore our proven tips on how your school can use its ESSER or EANS funds to design spaces that leave students feeling happier and healthier.
Give access to light & nature
Time spent outdoors is highly beneficial for students’ mental, physical and social health. When students learn outdoors, for example, they are often calmer, better able to focus and more enthusiastic, thanks to an immediate boost in serotonin from sunlight. Prioritizing the time students spend outdoors learning, socializing or playing is a sure-fire way to boost mental health.
Give access to refuge & personal space
Tranquility rooms, breakout rooms and individual nooks are all spaces that can offer students a reprieve from anxious or stressful situations. These spaces are often dedicated quiet spots that offer privacy or access to calming devices such as fidget spinners, stress balls and coloring books to aid in de-escalation.
Promote social interaction
It’s no secret that social interaction is critical to mental and physical well-being, regardless of age. Studies show that socializing fends off feelings of loneliness and depression, improves self-esteem and even sharpens memory and cognitive skills. Promote student interaction by outfitting centralized common areas, comfortable activity spaces and flexible dining rooms.
Allow access to caring adults
Studies show that students who have access to caring adults in school – like a counselor, tutor or nurse – engage in less risky behavior, have increased levels of motivation and higher psychological well-being. Be sure your school’s resource room, counselor’s room or nurses' office is equipped with the furnishings necessary for successful visits.
Allow students to explore self-efficacy
Learning spaces that allow students to embrace their autonomy can boost their self-esteem and leave them feeling empowered to take on more challenging goals. Makerspaces, music rooms and art rooms are all examples of spaces that promote the growth of self-efficacy through risk-taking, creativity, experimentation and more.
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