It’s Time To Talk

Mental Health and Homelessness

It has long been known that there is a strong connection between mental health and homelessness. In fact, homeless people are twice as likely to have experienced some kind of mental health problems compared to the general population. But why is this and what came first? Well that is the problem – the two things are truly linked. Mental illness can trigger or lead to a situation causing homelessness and once homeless, mental health can deteriorate.

Never-Ending Loop

To demonstrate this never-ending loop, imagine somebody who has poor mental health and is struggling living on their own – their mental health can make it very difficult for them to cope with potential housing problems. Organising the payment of bills, responding to letters, communicating with authorities or landlords, can all become huge mountains to climb for somebody struggling with mental health, along with keeping living spaces clean and well-maintained. Furthermore, they may struggle with understanding changes to benefits and maintaining employment, leading to financial problems. 

In turn, these issues can all exacerbate mental health problems, which can cause increased depression, low self esteem, feelings of isolation and loneliness, anxiety, lack of sleep, relationship problems, anger and conflict. Once someone finds themselves homeless, all these problems can escalate even further and lead to new problems such as substance misuse and poor physical health. 

The First Steps To Recovery

Disentangling this relationship is extremely complex, and recognising the problems and talking openly about them is often the first step to breaking the link. Here at CENS, we recognise the complicated nature of homelessness and that the solution is rarely straightforward. Therefore we always engage with our residents and aim to understand the challenges they are facing as individuals, so we can tackle them together and help enable them to move on with their lives.

Help Is Always At Hand

There are many services, charities and support groups available to offer help, support and treatment for mental health issues. We often refer people to MIND who have a direct number that can be called for support and there is also a crisis cafe in Colchester. They can make referrals for drug/alcohol support, community link workers and outreach support workers. We also work with Beacon House who can support referrals. You can find more information about NHS mental health support services on their website.

Talk Talk Talk

Today is Time To Talk Day. Don’t hide away from mental health. If you are having concerns or know somebody who needs help, then start a conversation. With more openness, we can break down those stereotypes and begin to find a pathway back to health and stability. Often the hardest part of the illness is keeping it a secret. Just being open and honest and starting that conversation really can make a difference and change lives for the better. And the more we learn to tackle the causes and effects of mental illness, the more we can start to tackle the root causes of homelessness.

For more help, head to the Homeless Hub.