A HOSPITAL has installed a giant teepee indoors to help boost the mental health of patients, visitors and staff.

The teepee, which has been set up at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, is lottery funded and stands at almost 15ft tall.

It will stay in the atrium near the south entrance for three months until June and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The teepee provides a break from clinical surroundings with the aim of helping to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Siobhan McArdle, chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am personally sponsoring and piloting this project as I believe it will provide a unique space on our main hospital site, and will offer a welcome break for patients, visitors and staff to come together, to chat, relax or ‘just be’. There is no expectation, no intervention, just a time or place to be more human to each other. The teepee is part of our wider mental health and wellbeing strategy.”

Debi McKeown, nursing sister in therapeutic care at James Cook, said: “Medical intervention and treatment is key to recovery but sometimes non-medical intervention that will boost wellbeing offers other sources of help and support. People talking and supporting each other has a significant impact on how people recover and cope with difficult situations.

“The teepee is a comfortable space furnished with comfy chairs, cushions and rugs and takes people out of the hospital environment."

The teepee has been provided to the hospital by Camerados, a social movement which promotes friends and purpose for getting through difficult times. James Cook is only the third hospital in the UK to have the teepee and it is hoped it will provide moments away from the hectic hospital environment.