Poor mental health is both a cause and consequence of homelessness. For example, the onset of mental illness can trigger, or be part of, a series of events that can lead someone being forced into homelessness.
Furthermore, housing insecurity and homelessness is stressful and can exacerbate or cause mental health problems. This means that there is a higher rate of mental health problems amongst people without a home compared with the general population.
45% of people experiencing homelessness have been diagnosed with a mental health issue. This rises to 8 out of 10 people who are sleeping rough.
Mental health issues are deeply connected to the trauma and adversity people who are homeless face.
Our services are focused on supporting people who may have experienced trauma and adversity, leading to poor health.
We focus on ‘what’s happened’ to a person rather than asking ‘what’s wrong’ with them. At our Skylight Centres, building trusting and secure relationships with the members we work with is at the centre of all our work to end homelessness.
Psychologists and psychotherapists based in each Skylight work with members and staff to develop a holistic understanding their situation and how to reduce the understandable distress experienced. The Psychology team also support members to access statutory services such as NHS mental health support.
Crisis also leads #HealthNow in Birmingham and Newcastle, a peer-to-peer Health Lead Project run in collaboration with Groundswell and Shelter. #HealthNow provides the Homeless Health Peer Advocacy, whereby volunteers with lived experience of homelessness support people experiencing homelessness to access healthcare.
As well as working to empower and advocate for those experiencing homelessness, Crisis fights for a fairer and more equal society. Without a safe and stable home, it can be difficult for people to address the mental health issues that are compounding their homelessness.
That’s why we’re campaigning for the Westminster Government to implement solutions to help people whose homelessness is compounded by poor mental health, such as the rollout of Housing First. Housing First helps people into a safe, secure home they can call their own, after which they are supported with other issues in their life, such as their mental health.
We are working in coalition with organisations to call for changes to the NHS so it can better respond to the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness, for example by increasing the provision of specialist services such as the Pathway model. We will continue to ensure this is recognised in the Government’s work on health.
Read more about health and wellbeing research in the knowledge hub.
See also: drugs and alcohol.