Children’s Spaces of Mental Health: The Built Environment as Places of Meaning

  • Crafter S
  • Prokopiou E
  • Stein S
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This chapter will look at the role of the built environment and space in children and young people's mental health settings. In particular, the chapter will focus on the internal and external space of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) outpatients' setting. Since work on the built environment and space in children's mental health settings is so sparse, the chapter draws on commentaries from psychological and sociological studies on children's space and place, adult mental health settings, and research examining the internal and external spaces of children's hospitals. As well as providing some context-setting for why the child and adolescent mental health services offer an informative site for studying spaces of mental health, this chapter attempts to theorize how different meanings around "childhood" and the "child" are enacted through the built environment. In essence, there will be an examination of what meanings are developed through children and young people's interactions with CAMHS. Notably, how specific features of the built environment, symbolic associations with other types of buildings and past memories, serve as the frame of reference for understanding the role of place. Discussions about the construction of the "normal" childhood will show how features of the built environment in children's mental health settings position the child as "dangerous." As an example, the building facade of children's mental health settings is so discreet that they perpetuate the stigma associated with children's mental health. CAMHS therefore becomes a "hidden" service, rather than a service developed for children, by children. The chapter will conclude by using some empirical data from a study of the CAMHS built environment, collated with parents and children and young people, to act as exemplars for the phenomena discussed.




Crafter, S., Prokopiou, E., & Stein, S. (2015). Children’s Spaces of Mental Health: The Built Environment as Places of Meaning. In Play, Recreation, Health and Well Being (pp. 1–20). Springer Singapore.

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