Mind: Four in five people with mental health problems say their housing has made their mental health worse
Mind is calling on the Government and local authorities to provide good quality homes and a housing system that’s easy to understand and doesn’t discriminate against people with mental health problems.
Figures from mental health charity Mind show that nearly four in five (79 per cent) of people with mental health problems said a housing situation has made their mental health worse or caused a mental health problem.
More than two in three (69 percent) of the people Mind surveyed said they had issues with the quality of their housing such as damp, mould, threat of eviction, overcrowding and unstable tenancies. One in four tenants with mental health problems are behind on paying rent and at risk of losing their home.
The findings come as Mind launches a major new housing campaign. The charity is calling on the Government and local authorities to provide good quality homes and a housing system that’s easy to understand and doesn’t discriminate against people with mental health problems.
Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at mental health charity Mind, said: “It is unacceptable that so many people with mental health problems are living in housing situations that are making their mental health worse.
“Housing is more than just a roof over your head. It’s about finding somewhere safe and stable to call home. We all have the right to live somewhere that helps us focus on our families and our health or other parts of our lives. For people with mental health problems, a good home can be even more important when it comes to staying well.
“Too often people with mental health problems are living in cold, damp, poor quality homes or dealing with difficult landlords. Many of them will come into contact with authorities that hold outdated, stigmatising beliefs about people with mental health problems. At the best of times bad housing situations can be difficult, but for those of us with a mental health problem, it can be even harder to handle. It can make our mental health worse.
“This needs to change. While housing is high up the agenda at the moment, people forget that those with mental health problems are particularly at risk of being in poor housing situations. We want to see mental health embedded in all housing policy developed by the Government.”
Chris, 50, from London, has complex PTSD after being in an accident five years ago. While in hospital, he got behind on his rent payments and people were sending him bills and threatening debt collection letters. When Chris came out of hospital, the Housing Association put him in contact with their Benefits and Welfare Officer who helped Chris complete forms, access housing benefits and get support with his mental health.
He says: “My housing is source of stability in my life. Without a home, what other source of stability have you got in your life? I can’t imagine how that must be and I count myself lucky.
“My flat is more than just a flat. When you say ‘where you live’ it’s not just four walls and a telly, you’ve got neighbours, and you’ve got shops, a community. Everyone knew me and knew what happened and it all helped manage my mental health and come to terms with what happened.
“I have now been diagnosed with complex PTSD. I know I would be in a lot worse place if I hadn’t had my house.”
Another Mind campaigner says: “My experience of living in a very damp flat made me very stressed. I had depression and I lost most of my belongings to green and white mould. The bed covers were wet so I had to buy an electric blanket to dry the bed before we got in. It was a miracle that the electric blanket and the damp did not cause the flat to catch fire.
“I had to bathe my baby in the living room until I could afford a radiator in the bathroom. My daughter was so, so cold in the bathroom so there was no way I was risking her health.
“We then moved to a new house and life started getting better. Being in surroundings that are manageable makes me better able to deal with my depression.”