THE first sneak peek of design plans for New England's Banksia Mental Health Unit have been unveiled, with the baton now handed to locals to have their say.
Hunter New England Health (HNEH) has opened an online survey, and now a roadshow will come to Inverell, as well as Narrabri, Moree, and Armidale this week.
It will be on display outside FDBs Inverell, 32 Byron Street, from 10am to 1pm on Tuesday.
Banksia House supporter Joan Wakeford said it was of the utmost importance that people took the time to have their say.
"Mental ill health is more widespread than we recognise or talk about, so the prospect of someday maybe needing to be in that unit, that's a real prospect for anybody," Ms Wakeford said.
"The significance is heightened by the fact that when you're a patient in an acute mental health unit you feel powerless, you've been sent here often by well-meaning family or doctors, and to be able to express an opinion to how that unit should be when you've had an experience of being in it, I think that is a key to the success of this unit."
The questionnaire includes preferences for a colour scheme; what would create a calming space; which type of artworks to display; the preferred name of the unit; and important amenities for inside and outside.
HNEH executive director for mental health services, Dr Brendan Flynn, said local feedback on the early designs was crucial for planning.
"We are partnering with staff, carers and consumers to collectively develop the design for the new Banksia unit. People with lived experience of mental illness are front and centre in co-designing the new, integrated, Banksia unit," Dr Flynn said.
"The new mental health facility has also been designed to have flexibility and provide short stay accommodation for young and vulnerable people."
Ms Wakeford has backed the health service's commitment to community consultation.
"I think that's excellent and that it will go round the whole region so that people can have their likes and dislikes noted so I think they're handling it very well at the moment," she said.
"The more this unit is owned by the community, the more it's going to break down that fear and the stigma of being a patient."
The online survey can be filled in via https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FH2Y6YH
The new unit will contain an additional eight beds supporting services for older persons. More information on the project can be found via the Health Infrastructure website.
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