Fresh figures highlight link between mental ill health and homelessness

Data reveals that more 3,500 people made homeless last year had experienced mental health problems

NEW FIGURES have suggested that mental health problems were a contributing factor for almost a fifth of people who were made homeless in the last year .

Data revealed from Scottish Labour showed that in 2015-2016, just over 3,500 people across Scotland said that the reason they were not in secure accommodation was because of mental health issues, compared to just over 3,000 people who said the same in 2007.

This is despite a massive drop in the number of people who have identified as homeless in the last 10 years, going from over 30,500 in 2007 to just under 18,500 last year.

Scottish Labour’s equalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said: “These shocking figures show the impact poor mental health can have on a person’s life, and the growing problem it is across Scotland.

“Improving mental health outcomes should be embedded in the DNA of all government policy.” Monica Lennon MSP

“Improving mental health outcomes should be embedded in the DNA of all government policy.

“The SNP’s long delayed mental health strategy is a start, but it doesn’t come close to the scale of ambition we need to transform approaches to prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery.”  

Scottish Labour said the figures showed the need to ensure that mental health considerations run right through all of the Scottish Government’s department.

Currently, there is legislation in Scotland that allows everyone the right to temporary accommodation, providing a safety net for those who would be in danger of becoming homeless.

Currently, there is legislation in Scotland that allows everyone the right to temporary accommodation, providing a safety net for those who would be in danger of becoming homeless.

The Scottish Government will invest over £3bn by 2020 as it works toward delivering 50,000 new affordable homes.

Scottish Government Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We have some of the strongest housing rights for homeless people anywhere in the world and will continue to work across government and with national partners to tackle this important issue.

“Homelessness applications have fallen in recent years, due to our person-centred approach to housing options and preventing homelessness, which strengthens the links between housing and health services.

“Homelessness applications have fallen in recent years, due to our person-centred approach to housing options and preventing homelessness, which strengthens the links between housing and health services” Kevin Stewart

“This is vital because we know people with more complex needs, including mental health concerns, may require more support than just accommodation.     

 “The new mental health strategy recognises the link between poor mental health and homelessness and focuses on early intervention.

“The good progress we have seen over the past decade in addressing the stigma of mental health, with people more opening up about the issue, is to be welcomed.”

The new 10-year mental health strategy announced last month commits the Scottish Government to provide mental health training programmes to people in non-health roles, such as those who are working in the housing sector.

"This is why our Homelessness: Far From Fixed campaign is calling for a new National Homelessness Strategy to deliver a coordinated approach that works across departments and public services, including health services, to better prevent and tackle homelessness."  Shelter Scotland’s Adam Lang 

The NHS has projected that spending on mental health will be more than £1bn for the first time in 2017-18.

Adam Lang, head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “Shelter Scotland is well aware that it is sadly all too often chance, like poor mental or physical health, and not a choice that leads to someone losing their home. 

“This is why our Homelessness: Far From Fixed campaign is calling for a new National Homelessness Strategy to deliver a coordinated approach that works across departments and public services, including health services, to better prevent and tackle homelessness.”

Lang added: “A good home is fundamental to our personal and collective wellbeing. Scotland will struggle to achieve its aims of becoming a healthier and fairer country until there is a home for everyone.”

Picture courtesy of Richmond Fellowship 

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