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How to Choose Colors for Behavioural Health Facilities

Color Therapy is a thing. It is called chromotherapy, it is a form of therapy traced back to the Ancient Egyptians in which color is used as therapy. Although not widely practiced in Western medicine, we still adopt forms of it in the way we approach our interior design.

The study of color and how humans react to different colors has been going on for years. And with this the way we design our offices, hospitals, homes, and more has been largely influenced by, what the professionals call, color psychology.

In fact, most of this is done by homeowners without even realizing it. They look at a color, it makes them feel a certain way, which then leads to the decision as to whether to include it in their home or not.

And this is largely taken into account in the behavioral health industry.

Rendering Inspiration by HMC Architects

A lot of people who suffer from behavioral health issues have heightened sensory overload. Which, in easier terms, means that their 5 senses become overloaded with things around them. Loud noises, bright lights/colors, and things like that which seem normal to everyone else become increasingly obnoxious to those with anxiety issues, autism, ADHD, and more.

This means that the color of the room can have a huge impact on these types of mental health disorders. Bright and bold colors can become overwhelming and add to the sensory overload, which is why behavioral health facilities tend to lean towards more neutral, warm, or dull colors.

Now that we have that figured out, which less saturated (I don’t like the word dull…!) colors are the best for creating a comforting and relaxing environment.

Obviously, everyone is different, but with research, it has been proven that most people react to colors in similar ways. To learn more about each specific color read our color psychology blog.

For now, we will focus on 4 things to think about when adding colors to behavioral health facilities:

  1. Use calm colors, but not white and grey. White, grey, and black can make a building look stark and uninviting and can give off a not-so-comforting vibe.

  2. Make sure to use an accent color to bring the area to life but don’t go too bright. Anything crazy bright can cause sensory overload or something similar. So, try using warmer hues.

  3. Keep hues of blue in mind. Blue is known to be a calming, peaceful color, so if you are stumped start looking at the different shades of blue for a base color.

  4. Look at nature for inspiration. It is a known fact that nature is the best way to reach through to peace and comfort. So, look around, warm tones of greens, blues, and browns may be something to keep in mind!

Looking for color ideas? Use Colormind to help out! And be sure to check out our Color Psychology blog to get an even more in-depth look at each individual color's effect on humans!

Also don’t forget to check out our graded-in program to find upholsteries that will match your freshly designed behavioral health facility:


Behavioral Healthcare Executive. (2017, 08 02). How to effectively use color in treatment facilities. Retrieved from Behavioral Healthcare Executive:

Chapman, C. (n.d.). Cause and Effect: Exploring Color Psychology. Retrieved from Toptal:

Cherry, K. (2020, May 28). Color Psychology: Does It Affect How You Feel? Retrieved from VeryWellMind:

Dan Brennan, M. (2021, May 18). What is Sensory Overload with Anxiety? Retrieved from WebMD:

HMC Architects. (2018, September 12). Behavioral Health Facility Design Guide: Purposeful Best Practices. Retrieved from HMC Architects:

Ohwovoriole, T. (2022, August 04). What Is Color Therapy? Retrieved from VeryWellMind:

Parkin Architects. (2014, March 06). Determining Colour and Design Specifications for Mental Health Facilities. Retrieved from Parkin Architects Limited:

Stecker, D. S. (2021, May 09). Color Psychology: The Effects of Color. Retrieved from Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC:

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