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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Housing problems and mental health

Shelter UK has carried out research to investigate the relationship between housing and mental health in English adults.  Shelter interviewed 20 GPs across 6 English cities and over 3,500 British adults were surveyed via a nationally representative online questionnaire.  The results of their research were published last week and are summarised below. 

Findings from survey of GPs

The research found that GPs often identified an associated housing issue when discussing their patients’ mental ill-health. When housing was seen as the sole trigger of mental health issues, the most commonly cited conditions were anxiety and depression.

While GPs were confident in dealing with mental health issues, they self-identified a knowledge and support gap when trying to deal with associated housing problems.  They felt unsure of where to signpost patients. So, although housing had been identified as a contributory factor to the overall mental ill-health, this issue would remain unresolved.

Mental health issues among members of the public experiencing housing problems

In addition to interviewing GPs, Shelter also surveyed the general public to identify links between housing and mental health.  The most common housing problems referenced by those respondent who had experienced a housing problem in the last five years were affordability and disrepair.

  • 21% of participants said a housing issue had negatively affected their mental health in the last 5 years, with the majority citing stress, anxiety and sleeping problems.
  • 26% of those who said that a housing issue had negatively impacted their mental health in the last 5 years, said that they had gone to their GP as a result. This counts as 5% overall, or 1 in 20 adults. Scaled to the English adult population, this would run into the millions - a clear added burden on the NHS.
  • 3 in 10 of those who have had a housing issue in the last five years, not only said that it had had a negative mental impact, but that they had no issue with their mental health previously.  This shows that not only can housing exacerbate mental health issues, it can help to create new mental health problems.

Link between housing and mental health must be a priority

Shelter UK’s research shows that both health professionals and the general public agree that housing problems have negative impacts upon mental health.  The research demonstrates the links that exist between housing and health, with housing problems creating a negative impact on the budget of another public policy area, which is already under pressure. 

Shelter UK is calling for the link between housing and mental health needs to be addressed as a priority. 

How can we help?

Housing Rights understands that mental ill health can not only have a negative impact on the day-to-day lives of people; it can also put a strain on their housing situation and result in an increased risk of homelessness.

If you work with clients whose housing problems emanate from their mental ill-health you might be interested in our Mental ill-health and its impact on housing training course. Although not scheduled to run in the coming months, you can let us know if you’d be interested in attending the next scheduled date for this course.

If you would like advice on a housing problem you are currently experiencing, please call our Housing Rights’ advice line on 028 9024 5640.

Tagged In

Outside NI, Research

Author

Lizzie Scott