Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing




School of Nursing and Midwifery / School of Medical and Health Sciences / School of Arts and Humanities




Edith Cowan University / Open access publishing facilitated by Edith Cowan University, as part of the Wiley - Edith Cowan University agreement via the Council of Australian University Librarians


Andrew, L., Karthigesu, S., Coall, D., Sim, M., Dare, J., & Boxall, K. (2023). What makes a space safe? Consumers' perspectives on a mental health safe space. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 32(5), 1355-1364.


The provision of community-based space for people experiencing a mental health crisis is regarded as a favourable alternative to the emergency department. However, the only non-emergency department safe spaces in Western Australia are located within hospitals or hospital grounds. This qualitative study asked mental health consumers in Western Australia with experience of presentation at the emergency department during a mental health crisis to describe what a safe space would look and feel like. Data were collected through focus groups and thematically analysed. The findings present the voices of mental health consumers through the framework of health geography and the therapeutic landscape. These participants articulated important physical and social features of a therapeutic safe space and their symbolism as inclusive, accessible places where they would experience a sense of agency and belonging. Participants also expressed a need for trained peer support within the space to complement the skilled professional mental health team. Participants' experiences of the emergency department during mental health crises were described as contrary to their recovery needs. The research reinforces the need for an alternative to the emergency department for adults who experience mental health crises and provides consumer-led evidence to inform the design and development of a recovery-focused safe space.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.