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“It’s okay not to be okay”:

Jo Prestidge , Head of National Practice Development Team at Homeless Link explains why its important to acknowledge your own needs when working in homelessness services.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. In my blog earlier this week on mental health and homelessness, I shared information about improving support to people with poor mental health who are experiencing homelessness. In this blog I want to focus on you.

Working in homelessness is incredibly rewarding. Many people love the challenge and appreciate the privilege. But it’s also really bloody tough. Whatever your role and wherever you work in the system, the challenges can feel overwhelming. Demand is forever growing and resources and solutions are often inadequate.

This causes a lot of pressure and emotional turbulence. This can come from the direct client work; especially those who refuse the help on offer, from funders and other stakeholders whose demands can seem unrealistic and more broadly from the government, and wider society, who question what is happening and why more can’t be done. Consciously or unconsciously this has an impact.

It is extremely important that people working in the homelessness sector recognise and take steps to look after their own health and wellbeing. Especially those delivering client-facing services. Research published in 2023 found that 23% of frontline participants met the diagnostic threshold for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a direct result of their experiences at work. Secondary and Vicarious Trauma are also common, and burnout can lead to high levels of depression and stress for staff in the sector.

There are other factors that can exacerbate or lead to poorer mental health of people working in the sector. This can include their own past trauma or mental ill-health, how they manage their boundaries, working conditions and organisational culture.

It is common to deprioritise your own wellbeing because of all of the demands, and needs, of others around you. But it is essential for building resilience so that you can thrive at work. Taking care of yourself, and keeping an eye on your team mates, will ultimately help you to deliver better services in the long run.

Homeless Link have a range of support and information available to help you to look after yourself and each other. Why not explore some of it in your next team meetings?


  • Series 2 of Going Beyond: focuses on staff and team wellbeing

Guidance and tools

Webinar recordings


Channel website: http://www.homelesslink.org.uk

Original article link: https://homeless.org.uk/news/its-okay-not-to-be-okay/

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