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Homelessness and Mental Health

Hannah Ohagan Homeless Mental Health 621

According to the World Health Organisation definition, ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ 

Experiencing homelessness affects, at the very least, a person’s social well-being; and can often impact an individual’s physical and mental well-being. It’s therefore argued that homelessness in itself can be considered a state of ill-health.

There are a range of factors which may lead to a person becoming homeless and often health issues are among them. There are also clear causal and consequential links between homelessness and poor health outcomes. Ill-health can cause, contribute to and exacerbate homelessness and vice versa.

In Northern Ireland, one in five people experience mental health issues, and there are a growing number of vulnerable households with increasingly complex needs seeking support.  

Affective disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders, psychotic illness and substance misuse are particularly common for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Numerous studies have found a strong link between homelessness and an array of mental health conditions, with a higher prevalence of mental ill health in the homeless population.

The ‘Picture of Health’ survey by CHNI explored the heath of people in temporary accommodation and other homelessness services. It determined that the top three mental health problems reported were depression (80%); stress (78%), and sleep problems (77%). Three quarters reported anxiety / Anxiety Disorders, whilst 7 in 10 (72%) reported social isolation.

For more support please contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans on 116 123.

If you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless please contact Simon Community NI via our emergency 24/7 helpline.

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0800 171 2222