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Mental Health and Homelessness report launch

24 January 2023

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Simon Community NI and Depaul officially launched a new ‘Mental Health and Homelessness’ report at an event held recently at Belfast City Hall. The launch was attended by Northern Ireland Mental Health Champion Professor Siobhan O’Neill and Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council Christina Black, together with over 50 representatives from across the homelessness and mental health sectors, as well as political representatives.

A survey of 170 people experiencing homelessness, carried out as part of the research, found almost 70 percent had a mental health condition, with an overwhelming majority (84 percent) reporting they had received their diagnosis before becoming homeless.

Simon Community NI Chief Executive Jim Dennison said the report calls for a greater mental health focus on tackling the catastrophic impact of homelessness, “Homelessness is both stigmatising and isolating and can be a cause and consequence of mental illness. We need to ensure we have the right measures in place to support people who are struggling. We need a legal basis that pushes statutory bodies with responsibility for housing, health and social care, justice and education to cooperate and find more effective solutions. We also need a focus on homelessness written into the Mental Health Strategy.”

Northern Ireland Mental Health Champion Professor Siobhan O’Neill said, “It is essential that people can access the right support at the right time. There needs to be a specific action plan for people experiencing homelessness within the Mental Health Strategy. Support within the Department of Health should also be streamlined to provide timely interventions for people experiencing homelessness with additional issues. Referral pathways also need to be improved to enable swift access, with person-centred and trauma-informed care at the heart of service delivery.”

The report can be accessed here.