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Mental health and homelessness: an inextricable link?

This week is Mental Health Awareness week. The experience of poor mental health, and barriers to accessing appropriate treatment and support, is a significant challenge for people in England who are homeless or precariously housed. In fact it’s probably one of the things that most frontline staff mention to me when I meet them.

We know that mental health and homelessness are inextricably linked. Our Unhealthy State of Homelessness research found that 82% of people experiencing homelessness have a mental health diagnosis. They are more likely to access A&E for poor mental health, suicide and self-harm, and almost half self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, services are not able to effectively meet the needs of this group. Research from Groundswell found that people experiencing homelessness usually only receive support from health services once their mental health has deteriorated significantly, when they are in crisis or when they have attempted suicide. This resonates with findings from our annual review of the sector a couple of years ago, where 90% of Homeless Link’s members told us that their clients are unable to access mental health care.

We know that the mental health system is extremely overstretched, and that other factors like dual diagnosis and stigma impact the specific experience of those you support. That’s why over the last year we’ve worked with both the Centre for Mental Health and Royal Society for Public Health to explore the issues related to mental health and homelessness, in order to identify potential policy and practice changes that can be made.

But it’s not just about making the mental health system more accessible. A lack of suitable housing, and supported accommodation services, for people with poor mental health is also creating challenges. Less than 10% of Homeless Link’s members told us that they feel capable of supporting people with high or complex needs, and our scoping work found that there is a significant gap in knowledge, skills and confidence of the homelessness workforce in working with people who are experiencing mental ill-health.

That’s why I wanted to let you know about all of the training and resources we have available to help you in your work.

Free resources

Training courses

Trauma Informed Practice

Often, mental distress is directly related to, or exacerbated by, experiences of trauma. Understanding trauma, and working in a trauma informed way, can be extremely helpful when supporting people with poor mental health. This might include understanding how to help someone feel safer, listening to them without judgement or feeling like you need to fix things, and helping them to meet their basic needs.

To understand more about being trauma informed read our information page, access our training and keep an eye out for a new trauma informed implementation framework being launched in June.

 

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

Original article link: https://homeless.org.uk/news/mental-health-and-homelessness-an-inextricable-link/

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