Housing issues ‘damaging people’s mental health’

19 Apr 17

Concerns about paying rent and being evicted is damaging people’s mental health in England, the homelessness charity Shelter has claimed.

In the last five years, one in five adults (21%) have seen a deterioration in their mental health - brought on by housing problems, according to today’s report.

A survey of 20 GPs and more than 3,500 adults revealed patients facing housing issues had come to their doctors suffering with anxiety, depression and stress, in the worst cases patients reported having suicidal thoughts.

One in six adults (17%) say the pressure of housing problems has also affected their physical health with some reporting symptoms such as hair loss, nausea, exhaustion, dizzy spells and headaches, according to the research.

Shelter legal adviser Liz Clare said: "Every day at Shelter we hear from people at breaking point because they can no longer cope with their unstable, unliveable or unaffordable housing.

"From families in fear of falling further behind on the rent to people dealing with the misery of raising young children in a tiny, mouldy, freezing flat – people can feel completely overwhelmed.”

Dr Andrew Carr from London, who took part in the Shelter study, said: "I see how much housing is a problem in my work every day, and it's unusual for people not to have mental health burdens if they're in inadequate or unstable housing.

“With evictions on the rise in my area, I've seen people with acute anxiety or severe stress because they're facing the threat of losing their home."

He explained he advises patients to seek advice on housing problems as soon as possible. "I have seen first-hand the benefits of this on their mental wellbeing."

Today’s report from Shelter follows a study from the Chartered Institute of Housing which claimed housing was becoming “out of reach” for young, single people because the government’s local housing allowance wasn’t keeping pace with private rents.

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