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Mental Health - Overarching Guideline


Date published: 

HPU 131 Mental Health – Overarching Guideline describes the generic planning and design requirements that should be considered when planning mental health inpatient units. The document contains information that is common across all mental health inpatient units and should be read in conjunction with the following service specific HPU guidelines.

  • HPU 132 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit;
  • HPU 133 Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre (PECC);
  • HPU 134 Adult Acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit;
  • HPU 135 Older People’s Acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit;
  • HPU 136 Non Acute Mental Health Unit which includes rehabilitation, extended care and low to medium secure forensic services; and
  • HPU 137 Mental Health Intensive Care Unit.

The intent of HPU 131 is to reduce repetition so that the other HPUs can focus on service specific requirements (e.g. the special needs of adolescents). 


An updated revision of HPU 131 Mental Health – Overarching Guideline (Revision 2.0, January 2024) has been uploaded.  The revised version has been informed by an extensive consultation process through a co-design approach including clinical, operational and technical experts, as well as participants with lived experience of mental illness.

Key changes to the document include:

  • Updates to the overarching planning and design principles for mental health inpatient units.
  • Emphasis on the need to involve people with lived and living experience and their cultural representatives as equal partners throughout the entire planning and design process alongside clinicians, staff and other experts.
  • Updates to the language and terminology throughout the document, acknowledging that this does vary between jurisdictions and ensuring that the guideline has a positive focus on supporting therapeutic and recovery-oriented care in the least restrictive environment. 
  • Revised definition of ‘anti-ligature design’, noting that where the term is used in the document it is expected that the product will be of a type specifically manufactured and marketed as anti-ligature/ligature resistant, has been tested prior to installation or has a proven track record, and is installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Emphasis on the need for a thorough, well documented risk assessment to guide the design process. This should identify the level of risk associated with each area / zone across a unit that will inform the selection of Furniture, Fittings and Equipment (FFE)
  • Updates to information relating to outdoor areas, acknowledging that these are essential to the consumers’ recovery and wellbeing, provide opportunities for social engagement, and form a safe and therapeutic part of the service.
  • Emphasis on the importance of art in mental health units including an overview of the associated benefits, contemporary approaches and safety considerations relating to installations.
  • Updates to information relating to support for families / whānau, carers and other supporters including consideration of the needs of users, cultural considerations and local jurisdictional policies / models.  
  • Removal of recommended area requirements per consumer for communal areas given this information is more appropriately located within the service specific mental health HPUs.
  • Updates to all relevant references and recommended further reading including relevant New Zealand references.

Health Planning Unit Document

Complete Unit


Find past versions of documents here

Complete Unit