Multi-Sensory Environments and Student Mental Health

Room: E141-142

Audience: Educators

Call to Action: Evaluate existing facilities for rooms that may be transformed into multi- sensory spaces or consider programming such spaces into new buildings. Consider including some of the elements found to be most preferred in reducing perceived anxiety and stress in educational facility design.

Abstract: In a post-pandemic world, students are more stressed and anxious than ever before. Managing an academic workload under such circumstances is difficult, and many academic institutions are exploring ways to support their students’ mental health. Multi-sensory environments are spaces that are designed to stimulate or sooth an individual’s senses to promote positive emotions, facilitate relaxation, and foster a sense of control and choice. Could such spaces be an effective tool for positively impacting student mental health? Stantec partnered with the University of North Carolina Greensboro to conduct a study on multi-sensory rooms for college students. Through the study, we discovered the effect of such spaces on perceived anxiety and stress, the strategies students use to cope with stress, and what elements within these environments are most effective. This presentation shares the results of this study along with insights and design strategies for including multi-sensory environments in educational settings.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss the benefits of multi-sensory experiences for students.
  2. Identify strategies students use to cope with stress.
  3. Identify sensory elements preferred by students.
  4. Evaluate the factors influencing the use of multi- sensory environments by students.
Gwen Morgan, RID, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C
Gwen Morgan, RID, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C
Senior Principal, Stantec

Gwen is an interior designer who has devoted her career to the design of educational facilities, both higher education and K-12 buildings. She is passionate about sculpting the interior space of each project she undertakes to create a dynamic learning environment that will best accommodate students, instructors, and the community at large. This commitment is recognized in her role as Discipline Leader for Interior Design at Stantec. Gwen, a graduate of Kansas State University, leads design and technical excellence for the firm globally, guiding the Research and Benchmarking team for furniture and the interior environment, implementing best practices and fresh ideas across multiple markets.

Amanda Gale, Ph.D., IIDA, ASID, WELL AP, LEED AP (BD+C)
Amanda Gale, Ph.D., IIDA, ASID, WELL AP, LEED AP (BD+C)
Associate Professor, UNC Greensboro

Amanda is an Associate Professor in Interior Architecture at UNCG who explores wellbeing in higher education and career preparedness. Her research has been recognized through grants and awards including the Stantec Innovation Partnership Grant, IDEC Special Projects Grant, the Edison Price Fellowship, Bernard Glickman Deans Professorship, and Best Scholarship of Design Research Presentation from IDEC. Amanda serves on the Board of Directors for the Journal of Interior Design and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Core Competency

Design of Educational Facilities
Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232


October 16-19, 2024


+1 480.391.0840