Designed with Wellness in Mind

Fall 2013 eNews - RCPPL Helps Create Innovative Housing for Those Living with Mental Illness

The Rising Cedar Apartment complex isn’t just a beautiful building—it makes a difference in the lives of those who live with
mental illness.

Rising Cedar was developed by PPL in collaboration with Touchstone Mental Health, a nonprofit that works with more than 800 individuals annually. The building provides 24-hour onsite services and permanent housing for Touchstone participants with serious and persistent mental illness. To complement the services provided, Rising Cedar’s design incorporated the latest research to create a physical environment that promotes the health and wellness of its residents.

“We received input from Touchstone clients and mental health professionals and utilized research to create a unique environment that promotes sustained health and wellness,” said Mary Novak, PPL’s project manager on Rising Cedar. “It’s incredibly fulfilling to see the building have a positive impact on the well-being of the residents.”

Residents are benefitting from the thoughtful building features. Exposure to sunlight has been shown to help decrease anxiety and regulate individual sleep cycles, so Rising Cedar was designed to allow for abundant natural light, especially in the resident dining area where most residents begin their day.

Research also indicates that a connection to nature has many mental health benefits. A healing garden and courtyard area at Rising Cedar are integrated into individual services, from gardening and horticultural therapies to outdoor yoga.

Other design features promote the comfort level of residents. Rising Cedar has a calming floor-specific color scheme and open hallways to ensure that residents can always find their way around the 40-unit building. There are also a number of common areas where residents can connect socially. All of the details come together to give residents a sense of belonging.

“This is my home,” said Ray, a Rising Cedar Apartments resident. “I’m back in the community I know, and I’m in control of my own life.”

The complex will also promote health and wellness in the greater community. The Touchstone Community Health and Wellness Center, adjacent to the Rising Cedar Apartments, includes spaces for visiting healthcare professionals, wellness education workshops, and fitness programming. The Center offers individualized services and programs for those living with mental illness, both to Rising Cedar residents and to others in the community.

“The creation of both Rising Cedar Apartments and Touchstone’s Community Health and Wellness Center is providing a holistic approach to wellness, while enriching people’s lives,” Touchstone Mental Health’s Executive Director Martha Lantz said.

The location of Rising Cedar is also a critical element to the building’s success. Residents, most without their own vehicles, have an abundance of transportation options nearby, including a bike trail, bus stops, and a light-rail station. The transit-friendly location allows residents to get to volunteer activities, school, or other appointments easily, and helps Health and Wellness Center clients reach the facility.

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