Poor rented accommodation could impact mental health

Poor housing could make mental health problems worse

Research from leading mental health charity Mind has revealed that 80% of people with a mental health problem have lived in rented accommodation that has made their mental health worse.

The research was conducted to highlight the challenges faced by people living with a mental health problem when trying to secure a safe and long-term home, whether through the PRS or social housing.

Given the results of the survey, Mind are calling for a greater focus on mental health within the Government’s social housing policy, with special attention paid to how the issues surrounding the ‘stigma’ of mental health is tackled.

The research, which has taken from a survey of over 2,000 Mind supporters, Mind members, campaigners and members of the public. Of those surveyed, 1,762 have mental health problems and 668 were living in social housing and also had mental health problems. The survey didn’t only focus on social housing though, it also explored the housing sector as a whole, and highlighted that:

  • 80% people with mental health problems have lived in housing that has made their mental health worse
  • 40% of people with mental health problems have experienced stigma or discrimination in the place they live at the moment
  • 69% of people with mental health problems have had at least one issue with the quality of their home, with problems such as damp, mould, overcrowding and unstable tenancies being key concerns.
  • 42% of respondents admit to experiencing homelessness in the past
  • 28% have experienced stigma from neighbours or flatmates

Additional statistics, focusing specifically on the social housing sector, highlighted concerns as to how respondents have found the experience of managing the social housing system, and painted a stark image. The research suggests that people with mental health issues in social housing are more likely to:

  • Say their experience of housing had made their mental health worse
  • Face stigma from housing professionals (15%)
  • Have difficulties getting advice about how to navigate the housing system (43%)
  • Have difficulties getting understanding how to access benefits/Universal credit (27%)
  • Experience poor conditions in their social housing

Social housing is meant to be safe, secure and low cost, making it a good option for those of us with mental health problems who need it. Yet our research shows that people with mental health problems who need social housing are being let down at every stage of the process and the current system just isn’t working for people with mental health problems. Given how many people living in social housing are experiencing mental health problems, it’s shocking to see how little attention is given to mental health and housing. At the moment, barely any data is collected on the mental health needs of tenants by local authorities. The recent Green Paper made little reference to mental health, but did mention the need to collect more information about how councils allocate their housing. The Government needs to start collecting data on the housing picture for tenants with mental health problems if it’s serious about properly meeting its ambition for improving support for people with mental health problems. We’d also like to see more training for those working for social housing providers to ensure they are well equipped to support tenants who have mental health problems.

Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind

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