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10 October, 2023
News Story

Mental health and a home are universal human rights

The importance of mental health support for people experiencing homelessness

Elif is Your Place’s Mental Health Specialist, working with people at Your Place to provide the space and respect they need to access the right mental health care for them. Everyone will have different needs, so as such everyone is addressed as an individual. This World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day (both 10 October), Elif is helping us look closely at the links between the two.

“When someone arrives at Your Place, we work with them one-on-one to develop a support plan as soon as they come through the door. Due to any of the issues or events we’ve mentioned, they might have fallen through the health system, so we make sure they’re registered with a GP. This is especially important now as routine mental health appointments have recently been streamlined to the GP service. We also have good relationships with local health organisations such as Newham Talking Therapies, for example, who come on site on a quarterly basis to deliver wellbeing sessions for residents. In developing these partnerships and having approachable professionals on site, we can encourage engagement between them and our residents.

“The links between mental health and homelessness are strong, and it’s apt that World Mental Health Day and World Homelessness Day both fall on 10 October. Over half of the people we work with at Your Place report a mental and physical health condition which affects their everyday life, so part of our role is to make sure they are getting the support they need. However, like all of us, the people we work with experience situations and issues that affect their mental health throughout their lives, not just whilst experiencing homelessness. That being said, many of our residents have experienced trauma, such as the result of difficult living conditions and relationships.

“More common issues such as relationship breakdowns can lead to mental health difficulties, which can then impact work and social lives. Many of those we work with have lost touch with their network of support and become socially isolated.

“When we talk about mental health and homelessness, often there is the assumption that mental health issues have been triggered by being homeless, and while that is sometimes the case, a lack of support or understanding around a person’s circumstances or long-term conditions  can worsen someone’s experience due to lack of personalised support, looking at the whole person.

“We know that there is a mental health crisis, in society at large and in the community: we cannot be complacent about the provisions we have available. We are looking to develop an in-house counselling service for residents, to meet their needs. Aside from the structured, clinical side of mental health and wellbeing, we do want to make it light too; our recent event on Suicide Prevention Day included creative activities which are social and relaxing, so anyone can get involved and make their day a little more fun without having to focus on mental health specifically. We also use a social prescribing platform called Joy, which helps us source local organisations who can help residents get into activities that will help their wellbeing, such as group exercise or gardening.”

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