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Behavioral Health Center:Choosing the Right Furniture Matters

By CME Corp Staff | November 1, 2023

Ready for some good news?

The stigma related to mental health is waning thanks to the tireless efforts of people working to bring awareness and understanding to the subject.

Healthcare is becoming increasingly holistic in its approach to wellness and is focusing on the relationship of mental health to physical health.

In response, health insurance plans have expanded coverage to include behavioral health treatment.

And just in time if the gloom and doom economic forecasts come to fruition.

With economic stress comes an increased need for mental health services. Decreasing barriers to seeking help, either financially or in the willingness to accept help, suggests behavioral health facilities will become a prominent player on team healthcare.

Choosing the right furniture for mental health centers matters.

In this article we will explore

Why choosing the right behavioral health furniture and equipment matters

Equipping behavioral health centers is just like equipping a hospital or surgical center, right?

Nope. Although the types or categories of medical equipment may be similar there are several factors unique to mental health centers that should be considered.

Patient Population

Consider the population the behavioral health center will serve. For example, if the facility is focused on the mental health of adolescents’ medical equipment requirements may lean more to furnishing therapy spaces while a mental health center primarily serving the military population will include more exercise space and gym equipment. Anesthesia equipment and advanced resuscitation equipment may be a requirement for behavioral health facilities serving a population who may need electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Carefully defining the expected patient population of the mental health center to choose the proper and safest medical equipment is the first step to setting the stage for positive patient outcomes.

Patient Safety

The nature of mental illness increases the risk that a patient will self-harm or harm others therefore choosing equipment with an eye to patient safety is critical. For example, anything that could be used as a ligature is a risk for behavioral health patients. Medical equipment with cords must be carefully monitored.

Vital signs monitors are all but non-existent in resident patient’s rooms because of the dangling cords but mobile carts equipped with vital signs monitoring devices that can be locked at a nurse’s station are a safe alternative.

CPAP machines that must be in the room with a patient should be equipped with a sloped top lock box to eliminate the ligature risk of the cord.

It is important that behavioral health centers consider equipment with the unique safety needs of the patients in mind. Specially designed spaces and adequate storage to keep equipment posing any risk locked and away from the patient population is also an important consideration.

Adequate Storage

Gym equipment, art supplies in therapy rooms, and diagnostic tools with cords all need to be stored and locked away from the patient population.

Mobile medical carts and wire shelving units are essential for keeping equipment and materials organized and safely away from common areas and private rooms in a mental healthcare center.

During the design phase of behavioral health center planning appropriately sized locked spaces should be considered to accommodate shelving and mobile equipment essential for patient safety.


What to look for in furniture for mental health centers

When choosing equipment, especially behavioral health furniture, protecting patients from self-inflicted harm and ensuring the safety of other patients and healthcare staff is a priority. There are several details to consider.

Ligature Risk

Unfortunately, suicides do occur in mental health centers and 75% 1 use ligatures. Minimizing the ligature risk of equipment and furniture is imperative.

Locking away devices and instruments with cords is a powerful safety measure. But what about ligature risks associated with furniture in patient rooms. Here are some features to look for to minimize ligature dangers associated with furnishings.

  • Continuous “piano style” hinges
  • Door handles that are recessed or slope downward.
  • Curved door tops
  • Open design that removes doors entirely


Mental illness can manifest itself in many ways, including violence and aggression. In these situations, anything can be weaponized including furniture which can be thrown or broken into smaller parts and used as a striking weapon. Here are some features to look for to minimize the risk of furnishings being used to inflict harm.

  • Soft foam, light furniture without any internal frame
  • Heavily weighted furniture
  • Shapes to prevent being picked up.
  • Plates that allow the piece to be securely fixed to the floor.
  • One-piece design


Stashing or concealment is a way for patients to avoid taking therapeutic medications. Sharp objects intended for harm are also commonly concealed when the opportunity exists. Look for anti-concealment features when choosing furniture for behavioral health centers. For example, look for:

  • Zero-depth seams to minimize the gap around a seat cushion.
  • Removable seat and back cushions
  • Enclosed bases
  • Additional panels between drawer runners
  • Seamless design

Infection Control

Whether it is saliva, incontinence, or other body fluids, water-resistant vinyl upholstery is a first line of defense against infection. Seamless cushions are another option. Other features to seek out for infection control in a mental health facility include:

  • Removable seat and back cushions
  • “Sacral” gap between the back and seat of chairs
    rotationally molded plastic beds that eliminate joints in the construction.
  • Molded plastic mattress tray
  • Antibacterial or anti-microbial coatings


For many patients experiencing mental health challenges, excessive noise can be disturbing and interfere with treatment and recovery. Selecting medical equipment that addresses noise and acoustics is important. Consider thoughtfully placed acoustic tiles to help create a calming, more therapeutic environment.

With these safety features top of mind safer environments can be created for both patients and caregivers. Joint Commission Accreditation assessments for behavioral health centers are also valuable guidance when choosing medical equipment for residential and outpatient mental health centers.


Essential Behavioral Health Center Furniture and Equipment

Behavioral health centers may offer inpatient, outpatient, or a combination of services. Regardless of the services offered, properly equipping the center can directly influence the quality of care and ultimately the recovery of the patients. Each room in a mental health facility has its own set of essentials.

Patient Rooms

Patient comfort and safety are primary concerns associated with furnishing patient rooms. Some common essentials include:

  • Platform beds
  • Foam or extraordinarily heavy chairs
  • Open wardrobes or bedside storage
  • “Zipperless” mattresses

Exam Rooms

Much like exam rooms in clinics or primary care offices, exam rooms in behavioral health centers should include items such as:

  • Exam Tables
  • Modular casework
  • Thermometers
  • Vital Signs Equipment
  • Diagnostic Equipment
  • Medical Carts
  • Locking Cabinets
  • Sink
  • Physician stool

Exercise Rooms

Science tells us that exercise is an important part of treatment mental illness. In addition to helping to improve physical health, exercise has been shown to improve mood, concentration, and alertness. Not surprisingly, many behavioral health centers offer their patients exercise as part of treatment. Common essentials for these rooms include:

  • Exercise balls
  • Treadmills
  • Bikes
  • Ellipticals
  • Mats
  • Modular casework

Laundry Rooms

Mental health centers offering inpatient services may require laundry facilities. In addition to commercial washers and dryers, laundry services benefit from

  • Laundry carts
  • Stainless steel folding tables
  • Hampers

While not exhaustive lists and certainly not an all-inclusive directory of rooms in mental health facilities, this checklist is a starting point.


How CME Can Help Behavioral Health Centers

CME Corp branded logoAs a premier nationwide medical equipment distributor, CME offers extensive lines of medical equipment, casework, furniture, and shelving suited specifically for the behavioral healthcare environment. Our experts are aware of the current Joint Commission requirements focused on suicide prevention in the mental health environment and can offer guidance in this area.

We can also help prepare a cost savings analysis that includes clear pricing sheets, so you know you are receiving the most competitive pricing.

Additionally, we hold the following government contracts:

  • DLA Medical Equipment

ECAT # SPE2DH-20-D-0046

DAPA # SP0200-18-H-0051

  • VA Medical Equipment

FSS 65 IIA # 36F79722D0186

  • GSA Multiple Award Schedule

GSA # 47QSWA21D004H

  • State of MA Healthcare Equipment

DPH # HLTHEQIP173026000000

Our Direct-to-Site logistics services will ensure that medical equipment is delivered assembled directly to the appropriate rooms within the facility when it is convenient for you and your patients.

Additional Resources

Behavioral Health: New Regulations and Product Solutions

3 Important Factors in Choosing Your VA Medical Equipment Distributor

 Frequently Asked Questions

Is furniture used in mental health centers different than furniture used in hospitals?

Yes. While the types of furniture are similar, beds and chairs for example, the design and construction are different. Furniture for mental health facilities is designed to be comfortable but at the same time keep staff and patients safe from injury. For example, in mental health centers chairs are frequently made of soft foam without any internal frame so they cause as little harm as possible if they are thrown.

Can equipment and furniture for behavioral health centers be purchased through GPO contracts?

Yes. Check with your equipment distributor for a list of contracts they are associated with. CME Corp holds the following contracts:

  • DLA Medical Equipment

ECAT # SPE2DH-20-D-0046

DAPA # SP0200-18-H-0051

  • VA Medical Equipment

FSS 65 IIA # 36F79722D0186

  • GSA Multiple Award Schedule

GSA # 47QSWA21D004H

  • State of MA Healthcare Equipment

DPH # HLTHEQIP173026000000

What features should you look for in furniture for mental health centers?

Furniture designed for behavioral health facilities should be tamper resistant, ligature resistant, easy to clean, able to be bolted down, and eliminate areas where objects can be hidden. Choosing the right furniture can help keep patients and staff safe.


What are potential ligature risks associated with furniture in a patient’s room in behavioral health centers?

Common ligature risks are doors, door handles, and door hinges found on wardrobes and closed bookcases. These risks can be mitigated with sloped doors, recessed or downward sloping handles, and continuous “piano style” hinges. Open style furniture eliminates these risks by removing doors, handles, and hinges.



About CME: CME Corp is the nation’s premier source for healthcare equipmentturnkey logistics, and biomedical services, representing 2 million+ products from more than 2,000 manufacturers. With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, our mission is to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment specification, delivery, installation, and maintenance processes more efficient, and help them seamlessly launch, renovate and expand on schedule.


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