Lessons from design: mental health in condos

Globally we find ourselves in what is now called the cognitive revolution where the recognition that self-fulfilment, social health and the fight against loneliness are at the core of chasing personal wellbeing. Their importance is as high if not higher than nutrition, exercise, and amassing sufficient wealth to ensure a comfortable life.

While all of us deal with such issues, the potential that certain forced urban communities, like condos, have in creating their own self-healing mechanisms is fascinating.

Design by Dochia Interior Design

They are tight-knit communities, a world in themselves, where often the people who have time to be concerned with neighbours’ wellbeing are spare. Yet their lives are bound by financial ties, geographic proximity, and the intimate use of shared amenities as an extension of personal space. From the point of view of an urban family, this is as tight-knit as it gets, minus the genetics.

It follows that mental health in condos should be a greater concern of the community as it can affect relationship dynamics, security, and the enjoyment of the home.

To what extent the owners are ready to nourish an environment of positivity and mental health that’s a different story. It can be as little as setting up for a pleasant evening or getting a trained property manager that can coach, manage, and facilitate a culture of communal belonging on an ongoing basis.

One great way to start is by placing emotional value to dry events. Converting occasions into experiences is not a new concept, yet it is very little applied to what I call “dry events” like Condo AGM’s or different voting gatherings.

There are always choices that can be made to make it simply ‘fun’ to do what you need to do.

Setting up a room can control and focus the mood of the event. There are spatial and design methods to encourage interaction, disperse contention, normalize social ties, and set up a culture that embraces differences.

The finish architect Pallasmaa is one of the many who coin the importance of the interaction of people with places when he says, “Spaces, Places, and buildings are undoubtedly encountered as multi-sensory lived experiences. Instead of registering architecture merely as visual images, we scan our settings by the ears, skin, nose, and tongue.” Backed by an increasing body of research and findings, this concept is far from new now, as it permeates more and more facets of our life.

Looking at its origins is crucial to understanding it fully. While the beginnings may not have all the answers, they are likely to be the most genuine and candid applications of what humankind thought, instinctively at the time, to be the right way to build.

Not surprisingly, the concept of mental health originated in Psychiatry. Or did it?

Subscribe not to miss a succinct and insightful look at the concept’s roots and what light it sheds on how we should best address it today.

Images courtesy of Dochia Media

This article first appeared in My 2 cents on design
how to curate a better lifestyle through design
part of  MENTAL HEALTH \\ a DOCHIA FOCUS monthly lifestyle series

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