Introduction: The mental health services of the western world have faced major changes due to the process of deinstitutionalization of these services. This process has led to the creation of supported housing facilities (SHF) for people with severe mental illness (SMI) (Fakhoury & Priebe, 2002). The environment for people with SMI has mostly been investigated in terms of its social characteristics, and little attention has been given to the physical environment.

Although, it is widely acknowledged that physical and social environments are not directly separable, very little is known about their interaction and related impact on the well-being of people with SMI (Baroni, 1998).

Previous findings from this project showed that people with SMI and experts, share similar views with regard to the identification of psychologically supportive aspects of SHF (Marcheschi, Johansson, Brunt, & Laike, submitted). Furthermore, perceived physical environmental quality was found to be a significant predictor of perceived social environmental quality (Marcheschi, Brunt, Hansson, & Johansson, 2013). Findings from similar settings demonstrate that place attachment mediates the effect of the environment on mental health outcomes (Evans, Kantrowitz, & Eshelman, 2002).

This study further explores the interaction between physical and social environments of SHF. It aims to assess the extent to which perceived physical and social environmental quality explains variations in the well-being of people with SMI, which was operationalized in terms of; perceived quality of life.

SHFs that sustain the needs of people with SMI for; social support, perceived control, restoration and a positive social climate, are expected to support the well-being of people with SMI (Evans, 2003). Moreover, the construct of place attachment was investigated and expected to mediate the relationship between the perceived environmental qualities and the well-being of people with SMI. The Human Environment Interaction model (Küller, 1991a), was used as theoretical background. The model describes how people are affected by the transaction with the physical and social environment.

Swedish Supported housing facilities for people with SMI have been investigated. The study adopts a user-centered approach, which entails that subjective appraisal of physical and social environmental qualities of SHF (n = 20), were carried out by people with SMI (N = 72). A post occupancy evaluation scale (Johansson & Brunt, 2012) was adopted for the assessment of the physical environment, and the Community Oriented Program Environmental Scale (COPES, Moos, 1972), for the social environment. Place attachment and quality of life, were respectively investigated with a sense of place scale (Shamai, 1991) and with the Manchester short assessment of quality of life scale (MANSA, Priebe, Huxley, Knight & Evans, 1999).

Multiple regression analysis was used to test the extent to which, perceived physical and social environmental quality predicts people with SMI’s well-being.

Results showed that perceived physical environmental quality (B = .49, SEB = .16, β = .37, p < .01) and social environmental quality (B = 1.25, SEB = .33, β = .49, p < .001) were predictors of people with SMI’s well-being. Together they account for 35% of their quality of life perception. The mediator effects of place attachment will be further tested.

Implication of these findings for future planning of psychologically supportive environments, for this frail group in society will be discussed.