New research reveals the often devastating impact when people with a mental illness experience the threat of losing their home. New analysis of national data by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute found that:
- over a million UK adults are both struggling with their mental health and housing costs – with one often feeding the other
- people who are struggling with housing costs are one and a half times as likely to experience mental health problems – a squeeze in living standards is leaving many behind on rent and in need of mental health support.
The report found that mental health problems also make arrears harder to resolve, and that offers of support from housing providers are not getting through. This creates a cycle of rent arrears, fears of eviction and mental health problems that is hard to break. Social housing providers already offer support for their residents far beyond what is available in the private rented sector. However, the charity found that tenants with mental health problems were struggling to open letters, answer the phone or otherwise engage with the support available. Money and Mental Health has published a new best practice guide to help housing associations reach those most in need of help.
Simon Crine, Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said: “For most of us, our home is central to our wellbeing, our sense of self and our confidence that we can support and protect our families. When that comes under threat because of difficulties meeting the rent it can have an immediate and profound impact on our mental health. Today’s research reveals for the first time the sheer number of people affected, and sets out some straightforward things that can be done to help.”
The research was welcomed by a consortium of housing associations, including some of the UK’s biggest housing providers, who worked with the charity to understand the issues affecting their tenants.
Money and Mental Health is also calling for the government to do more to help – making specific changes to the benefit system that would support people with mental health problems to stay in their homes. This includes paying the housing component of a person’s benefits directly to their landlord if they have a mental health condition which limits their ability to manage their finances themselves, and allowing benefit payments to be backdated by more than a month where a claimant has been too unwell to claim.
Simon Crine said: “We’re delighted that six housing associations have supported this work so far, and we hope that the government will take these recommendations on board in the same constructive way.”
Read the full report at www.moneyandmentalhealth.org/housing