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Specifying The Right Mental Health Furniture For Different Challenging Behaviours

When specifying furniture for mental health environments it’s important that the items are chosen to meet the specific needs of those with challenging behaviours. This is not only to keep the individual themselves safe but also to ensure the safety of family members, care and support staff. 

This blog looks at what qualifies as a challenging behaviour, where they are most likely to take place and the product characteristics you should look for when specifying.  

What Are Challenging Behaviours? 

Also known as ‘culturally abnormal behaviours’, challenging behaviours can occur in both children and adults.  

They can often be intense, frequent and timely, putting the physical safety of the individual or those around them in serious jeopardy. It can also include behaviour that is likely to limit or deny access to the use of shared community facilities. 

Challenging behaviours are most often, although not exclusively exhibited by individuals with learning difficulties, developmental disabilities, dementia, brain injuries or psychosis. 

Examples of challenging behaviour include: 

  • Disruptive behaviours: calling out in class, swearing, tantrums, screaming 
  • Withdrawn behaviours: shyness, anxiety, hand flapping, rocking 
  • Violent/unsafe behaviours: headbanging, punching, kicking, smashing equipment or furniture/fixtures, fighting, biting, harm to others, selfharm 

Settings That May Experience Challenging Behaviours 

When it comes to furniture for challenging behaviours the specifier needs to understand the different environments where these challenging behaviours are displayed. They can occur at any time in any place.  

However, there are some settings where they occur more often and therefore should take precautions with the product specification. These include: 

  • Public Buildinge.g Doctors, DentistsLibraries, Retail Shops 
  • SEN Schools 
  • Special Autism Units 
  • Dementia Care Units 
  • EBD (Emotional Behavioural Developmental) Facilities 
  • Mental Health Units 
  • Psychiatric Secure Settings 
  • Recovery and Rehab Units 


Product Characteristics TLook Out For 

To ensure that these environments are safe for people with challenging behaviours, there are a few product characteristics you should look out for when specifying. Find out how mental health furniture differs from ordinary furniture. 

Many of the products supplied have a wood grain finish, this is to tune into the Biophilic design element. To find out more on how why biophilic design is essential in challenging environments, click here. 

Robust – Built For Strength 

Children and adults can experience extremely aggressive behaviour, which may cause them to lash out at furniture, things that are attached or fitted to the wall and even electricals like a television.  

This can not only end up in pain or injury for the individual themselves but can also lead to damaged items being used as a weapon to hurt others. One way to ensure items can’t be lifted or pushed over is to make them heavy. 


In mental health facilities where people are likely to selfharm, all ligatures need to be eradicated. Rounded corners and fully encasing items are common anti-ligature features found on products. 

Ligatures can also be found below head height, so it’s important to treat each ligature point as a potential risk. 

Easy To Clean Surfaces 

People with learning difficulties can exhibit unsanitary behaviours therefore there is a need for surfaces to be accessible and easy to clean. Moisture resistant mattresses are ideal for those that have little control over their bladder. 

Moisture Resistant Mattress



When specifying furniture for mental health facilities, there’s a lot of boxes that need to be ticked. However, furniture also needs to stand the test of time. Estates managers won’t have the budget to keep replacing the same pieces of furniture.  

Ensuring the furniture you pick will last is vital, it also ensures there is consistency for people with challenging behaviours as they may struggle with change. 



Even though challenging behaviours include an array of different behavioural traits, you can still specify products that meet the majority of your safety needs. 

Specialist furniture for Autism and SEN schools make specifying even easier. For any help or advice on choosing the right furniture for your specific challenging behaviour environment, get in touch.  

Our experts have over 25 years of experience in selecting the right furniture as they have in-depth knowledge of the capabilities of each range. 

Manufactured and made in the UK, the furniture goes through a vigorous quality control check before being delivered to the room and assembled by a specially trained team. 

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