Poor mental health is both a cause and consequence of homelessness. There is a higher rate of mental health problems amongst the homeless population than the general population. The onset of mental illness can trigger, or be part of, a series of events that can lead to homelessness. Additionally, mental health issues might well be exacerbated or caused by the stresses associated with being homeless.
A report for Crisis (Mental Ill Health in the Adult Single Homeless Population (2009)) found that homeless people were nearly twice as likely to have experienced mental health problems as the general population. The rate of psychosis was 4-15 times as prevalent than in the general population. The same research shows that as a person’s housing becomes more stable the rate of serious mental illness decreases.
A third of people who use our services have a history of mental health problems. At our Skylight Centres, specialist mental health workers support members to get access to health and social services and counselling. They also work with members to help improve their self-esteem, boosting their confidence to interact with others and form relationships. This helps them to feel part of a community.
An independent evaluation report from 2013 found that we directly enhanced the wellbeing of members with mental health problems and improved their access to counselling and NHS services.
In 2017 we will be developing our policy work around homelessness and mental health.
Read more about health and wellbeing research in the knowledge hub.
See also: drugs and alcohol.