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Behavioral Health Exit Signs: A Guide to Promoting Safety and Wellness in Mental Health Facilities

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Marlon Emmanuel Mcleod

April 27, 2023

Behavioural health facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and treatment centres, support individuals with mental health conditions. However, these facilities also face unique safety challenges, including the risk of self-harm and elopement among patients. 

To promote safety and wellness in these settings, it is essential to have adequate emergency egress systems in place, including behavioural health exit signs. Behavioural health exit signs are designed to meet the unique needs of mental health facilities by providing precise and concise direction for patients and staff in an emergency.

These signs differ from standard exit signs’ colour, text, and placement. This blog will explore the benefits of using behavioural health exit signs, how to choose the correct characters, and frequently asked questions about their use. 

Why Are Behavioral Health Exit Signs Necessary?

Behavioural health exit signs are necessary for several reasons. Let’s take a near look at why these signs are critical in mental health facilities: 

Safety of Patients

Mental health facilities have unique safety concerns that need to be addressed. Patients in mental health facilities may have suicidal tendencies or be dangerous to themselves or others. Therefore, it is crucial to have proper exit signage that ensures the safety of patients. Behavioural health exit signs are designed to minimize the risk of patient harm and ensure patients can easily find their way out of the facility.

Safety of Staff

Staff in mental health facilities also face unique safety challenges. They are often responsible for the safety of patients and must be able to react quickly in an emergency. Behavioural health exit signs help staff navigate the facility promptly and efficiently, reducing the risk of injury or harm.

Regulatory Compliance

Mental health facilities are subject to strict regulations and guidelines that govern their operation. These regulations often include requirements for proper exit signage. Behavioural health exit signs are designed to meet these regulations and ensure mental health facilities comply with all safety requirements.

Preventing Elopement

Patients in mental health facilities may try to leave without authorization, also known as elopement. Behavioural health exit signs help prevent elopement by clearly marking exits and ensuring patients can quickly return to designated areas.

Providing Clear Guidance

Behavioural health exit signs provide clear and concise guidance for patients and staff. These signs are simple to read and understand, even for patients who may be in a state of distress or confusion. By providing clear guidance, behavioural health exit signs help minimize the risk of injury or harm and ensure that everyone in the facility is aware of the appropriate exit routes.

Types of Behavioral Health Exit Signs

There are several types of behavioural health exit signs available in the market. Let’s take a near look at the different types of characters and their features:

Recessed Exit Signs

Recessed exit signs are designed to be flush with the wall, minimizing the risk of injury or harm to patients. These signs are typically made of durable materials, such as polycarbonate, and are designed to withstand harsh conditions.

LED Exit Signs

LED exit signs are energy-efficient and long-lasting. These signs are typically made of high-quality materials to provide clear and concise emergency guidance.

Photoluminescent Exit Signs

Photoluminescent exit signs are designed to glow in the dark, providing clear guidance even in low-light conditions. These signs are strangers made of durable materials and are easy to install and maintain.

Customized Exit Signs

Customized exit signs are designed to meet the unique needs of mental health facilities. These signs can be customized to include specific instructions or directions, making them ideal for facilities with unique layouts or requirements.

Benefits of Behavioral Health Exit Signs

Clear and Concise Direction

One of the primary benefits of behavioural health exit signs is their ability to provide clear and concise direction for patients and staff. In mental health facilities, patients may be experiencing cognitive or emotional impairments that make it difficult to understand or follow traditional signage. Behavioural health exit signs use simple, easy-to-understand language and graphics to ensure that patients and staff can quickly and safely evacuate the building in an emergency.

Reduces Risk of Self-Harm

Another benefit of behavioural health exit signs is their ability to reduce the risk of self-harm among patients. Traditional exit signs may be seen as a potential ligature point, which patients could use to harm themselves. Behavioural health exit signs are designed to be ligature-resistant, which reduces the risk of self-harm and promotes a safer environment for patients and staff.

Promotes a Calming Environment

Mental health facilities can be stressful and overwhelming environments for patients. Traditional exit signs can add to this stress by creating a sense of urgency and panic. Behavioural health exit signs use calming colours and graphics to promote a more relaxed and reassuring environment, which can help to reduce anxiety and promote wellness.

Choosing the Right Behavioral Health Exit Signs

When choosing behavioural health exit signs for your facility, there are several factors to consider, including:

Compliance with Regulations

It is essential to choose exit signs that comply with local and national regulations, including those set forth by OSHA and the NFPA. Compliance ensures that your facility meets safety standards and can avoid fines and legal issues.

Visibility and Placement

Behavioural health exit signs should be obvious and strategically placed throughout your facility to ensure patients and staff can quickly and easily locate them. Consider factors such as lighting, obstructions, and the layout of your building when determining the placement of your signs.

Ligature-Resistant Design

As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to choose ligature-resistant behavioural health exit signs to reduce the risk of self-harm among patients. Look for signs that have a flush design, rounded corners, and no visible mounting hardware.

Customization Options

Some providers offer customization options for behavioural health exit signs, including your facility’s logo or specific messaging. Customization can promote a sense of ownership and belonging among patients and staff and reinforce your facility’s brand identity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, behavioural health exit signs are essential for promoting safety and wellness in mental health facilities. These signs provide clear and concise direction, reduce the risk of self-harm, and promote a calming environment for patients and staff. When choosing behavioural health exit signs for your facility, it is essential to consider factors such as compliance with regulations, visibility and placement, ligature-resistant design, and customization options. By implementing effective emergency egress systems, mental health facilities can create a safer and more supportive environment for patients and staff.

FAQs- Behavioral Health Exit Signs

Does the law require behavioural health exit signs?

While no federal laws specifically require behavioural health exit signs, mental health facilities are subject to the same regulations as other commercial buildings regarding emergency egress systems. It is essential to check with your local and state authorities to ensure your facility meets all relevant laws.

What makes behavioural health exit signs different from traditional exit signs?

Behavioural health exit signs differ from traditional exit signs, including their colour, text, and placement. Behavioural health exit signs use calming colours, graphics, and straightforward language and are strategically placed throughout the facility to promote clear and concise direction.

How do behavioural health exit signs promote safety?

Behavioural health exit signs promote safety by providing precise and concise directions for patients and staff in the event of an emergency. They also reduce the risk of self-harm among patients by being ligature-resistant and promoting a more calming environment, which can help to reduce anxiety and promote wellness.

Can behavioural health exit signs be customized to fit my facility’s needs?

Some providers offer customization options for behavioural health exit signs, including your facility’s logo or specific messaging. Customization can promote a sense of ownership and belonging among patients and staff and reinforce your facility’s brand identity.

How often should behavioural health exit signs be inspected?

Behavioural health exit signs should be inspected regularly to ensure they function correctly and are visible and legible. The NFPA recommends checking exit signs at least once a month and conducting an annual inspection of the entire emergency egress system.

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