People with mental health conditions are one and a half times more likely to live in rented housing than the general population, with greater uncertainty about how long they can remain in their current home.
Research by the NHS Confederation (pdf) mental health network and the National Housing Federation found that, compared with the general population, people with mental health conditions are one and a half times more likely to live in rented housing, with greater uncertainty about how long they can remain in their current home.
They are twice as likely to be unhappy with their housing, and four times as likely to say that it makes their health worse. Mental ill health is frequently cited as a reason for tenancy breakdown and housing problems are often given as a reason for a person being admitted, or readmitted, to inpatient care.
How does housing affect mental health?
People with mental health problems are more likely to find themselves in rented accommodation, social housing, and in poor housing, with damp and mould problems. Part of this is due to their lower socioeconomic life chances, but the home should also be seen as a place of sanctuary and poor conditions, precarious tenancies, frequent moves and nearby antisocial behaviour can exacerbate problems.
Children who have lived in temporary accommodation for over a year are three times as likely to have mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, compared to their peers.
Living in poor housing affects women more than men. Research by NatCen and Shelter found mothers were more likely to suffer clinical depression if they lived in bad housing: 10% of mothers who lived in acutely bad housing were clinically depressed.
As well as diagnosed conditions, many people report that housing costs have had an adverse effect on their mental health. According to Shelter/YouGov polls:
- 33% (equivalent to 15 million people) say housing costs are causing stress and depression in their family;
- 25% (equivalent to 12.2 million people) are kept awake at night by the stress of paying their rent or mortgage;
- 25% say housing costs are causing arguments with their partner and other family members.
How does mental health affect housing?
The number of homeless people diagnosed with mental health problems is almost double the rate of the general population. Homeless Link surveyed more than 2,500 homeless adults (pdf) and found 45% of respondents had been diagnosed with a mental health issue, compared to 25% of the general population.
- 32% of respondents reported experiencing suicidal thoughts;
- 39% have panic attacks;
- 18% hear voices;
- 67% feel depressed;
- 41% used drugs or alcohol to cope with mental health issues.
Of diagnosed mental health issues among homeless people living on the street:
- 36% of respondents had been diagnosed with depression (12 times higher than the general population);
- 6% had bipolar disorder;
- 6% had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, compared to 1%–3% of the general population;
- 7% had post-traumatic stress disorder.
This article first appeared on ‘The Guardian’ on 5 February 2016.