Housing and mental health: How we’re tackling both

Mental health awareness week 2023 is all about anxiety. Anxiety is an emotion we all experience as a normal part of life, but when it gets out of control it can lead to mental health problems. It probably comes as no surprise that unfortunately, most people who refer in to CENS are experiencing anxiety and report that their mental health is poor. Housing problems alone can cause anxiety, and if you already have existing mental health issues, these can worsen and escalate.

The facts

Here are some heartbreaking facts about mental health and homelessness. It’s why the work we do here is vital to break the causality between poor mental health and homelessness.

  • From 2022-2023, 88% of CENS residents had a mental health diagnosis.
  • Homeless people are 9 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. 
  • In 2014, 80% of homeless people in England reported that they had mental health issues, with 45% having been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

The cyclical relationship

Major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have all been shown to occur with people who find themselves homeless at a high percentage than that of the general public.

Like many marginalised groups, the relationship between homelessness and mental health can be two-way. Many homeless people cite mental health problems as a reason for being homeless. and of course, it can also lead to mental health issues and magnify those already in existence. It is a hard cycle to break.

Access to support

That’s where we come in. Our residents all experience differing levels of anxiety caused by a variety of issues – financial worries, relationship problems, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, unemployment and feelings of disconnection from society. Our job is not just to offer a safe place to stay, but to connect with all our residents and talk to them about how they feel and what is causing them to feel anxious. Then we can begin to understand what help they may need and access the relevant support and counselling.

All our staff are mental health first aiders, which enables us to recognise and support anyone suffering with anxiety. Being accepting, non-judgemental and understanding goes a long way.

We also sign post out to Beacon House who can offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This is a solution-focused therapy where residents are helped to recognise thinking patterns and behaviours that cause anxiety, and ways to strategies and cope in healthier ways.

We have also been fortunate enough to secure funding for one-to-one counselling for the residents. This will be rolled out soon and will enable residents to work through some of the issues that have contributed to their current situation. We recognise that homelessness is not just about housing, by focusing on getting the right support for each individual, it’s amazing to watch people face their issues and move-on to a brighter future.

To find out more about Mental Health Foundation, visit here

CENS Essential Shopping List

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Hot chocolate
  • UHT milk
  • Squash
  • Vgetable oil
  • Gravy granules
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Stock cubes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned/packet custard
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned vegetables & potatoes
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Men & women’s deodorant
  • Men’s razors
  • Shave gel
  • Shower gel
  • Toothpaste
  • Cloths
  • Scourers
  • Washing up liquid
  • Surface cleaners
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Bin bags
  • Food caddy liners
  • Loo roll
  • Washing tablets
  • AA batteries
  • NEW single duvets
  • Pillows/pillowcases
  • Single duvet covers/sheets
  • Clean/good condition towels

Please no soups!
Thank you