In the context of Mental Health Awareness week, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of stable and secure housing as a key component of mental wellbeing.
There is clear evidence of the impact on mental health of poor housing. The Housing LIN has considerable resources on its dedicated mental health pages, especially in relation to older people For example, mental ill health is often identified as a reason for tenancy breakdown and housing issues can be a contributing factor for a person being admitted or re-admitted to inpatient care.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, compared with the general population, people with mental health conditions are:
- one and a half times more likely to live in rented housing
- more likely to experience instability with regards to tenancy agreements
- twice as likely as those without mental health problems to be unhappy with their housing
- four times as likely to say that it makes their health worse.
However, we are becoming increasingly aware of a renewed interest amongst both health and local authority commissioners and housing providers, of the importance of having a comprehensive understanding of the housing and associated support needs of people with mental health related needs and an improved set of housing responses.
Some people with mental health problems continue to be placed in residential or nursing homes instead of supported housing alternatives. A group of local authorities in the North West, with support from the Housing LIN, have undertaken a comprehensive regional analysis of the future housing needs of people with mental health problems as well as a survey of the quality of existing supported accommodation options, to provide an evidence base to inform future housing planning and delivery.
It is widely recognised that effective recovery and prevention of mental health problems is reinforced by good quality housing and support. The Housing LIN has assisted a large housing association working across the East of England and the Midlands to undertake a strategic review of its portfolio of housing and care services; the result has included an improved range of supported housing offers as well as increased assistance for people with mental health related needs living in general needs properties.
Housing is increasingly viewed as a central part of an effective recovery pathway, as well as an important factor in helping to prevent mental ill health and reducing the need for inpatient care. Working with a unitary Council in the West Midlands, the Housing LIN has helped to produce an ‘investment prospectus’ to promote investment in additional housing solutions for people with care and support requirements - this is helping to create a broader range of housing and support pathways, alongside local health and care services, for people with mental health related needs.
The learning from these projects demonstrates the importance of:
- Having a comprehensive understanding of the mix of housing and support requirements of people with mental health related needs
- Developing strategies that widen housing choices and pathways that enable people to the live as independently as possible in the least restrictive environment.
- Including and working with housing providers as a key partner in mental wellbeing and recovery services in the community.
- Increasing the supply of housing based alternatives, including supported housing, to high cost inpatient rehabilitation services.
For further information and/or to talk through how the Housing LIN can support your organisation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
 Social Exclusion Unit, Mental Health and Social Exclusion
 Johnson R, Griffiths C and Nottingham T. At home? Mental Health issues arising in social housing