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Relationship between mental health and homelessness

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Introduction to relationship between mental health and homelessness

In the present era, homelessness is a serious problem that is faced by UK citizens. In the UK, homelessness is described as a situation in which people live without a roof over their head. They do not have their own residence that makes people unable to spend safe and secure life. All the UK people who are spending their nights in homeless shelters, warming centres, tents, recreational vehicles, cardboard boxes and tarpaulins are considered as homeless. Thus, it can be said that the term ‘home’ not only involves the physical space but also provides security, safety, sense of belongingness and emotional attachment. In UK, the homelessness is mainly refers to the absence of accommodation facilities to the people. In UK, local authority is responsible for providing accommodation services to the homeless person who qualifies all the criteria’s of statutory homelessness test. The five criteria include homelessness, eligibility, priority need, international homelessness and local connection test.

Mental illness includes all the health related problems that affect some of the citizens at UK. It affects person’s mood, their way of thinking and behaviour in an adverse manner. It includes depression, addiction, stress, anxiety, panic conditions, and schizophrenia and so on.

In UK, homelessness is caused due to the loss of dwelling, mortgage and rent arrears, breaking down of relationship with partner, unwillingness of parents and families to accommodate for longer period etc. Homelessness is one of the significant reasons that cause mental illness. It is because homeless people feel mental pressure to their mind. They feel depressed and panic conditions that results in mental illness. Both mental illness and homelessness are directly related to each other. Raising the number of homeless people will tend to increase the mental illness and vice versa.

The present essay will discuss the causes and consequences of homelessness. Moreover, it will help us in identifying the relationship between homelessness and mental illness.

Causes of homelessness and its relationship with the mental illness

Relationship between homelessness and mental illness: There are number of factors that cause homelessness in UK. Broad understanding of the factors helps us to ascertain the relationship between homelessness and mental illness. It includes both the personal causes and structural factors that are explained here as under:

Personal causes: It involves both the personal as well as social factors. These factors greatly contribute towards the reasons by which person becomes homeless. Further, these factors can be classified into different types that are individual and family background factors. Causes of homelessness that are related to the person are termed as individual factors. However, social factors comprise of all the family factors that causes homelessness and which includes aspects such as family disputes.

Individual factors: The factors that are related to the homeless people only, are the part of individual factors. It includes lack of qualification, lack of social support, high loans or arrears issues, poor health, breaking down of relationships and involvement in crime.

Lack of social support: Social support is related to the person’s behaviour in which they help and assist other people. It is related with the perception of people who take care of other individual or group. In the community network, social support system plays a significant role. There are different forms of social support systems that are emotional, instrumental and informational. Caring for the people prevails under the emotional support while instrumental support refers to the physical support. It includes the monetary kind of help such as money and house assistance. Along with it, informational support consists of providing necessary and required information to help someone. In case of difficult survival conditions, lack of society support may cause homelessness problem. However, when the society is inclined to provide care to other people, then they will be able to take home and monetary assistance from the community. In addition to this, more and more support of the society helps to reduce the mental health problems of an individual (Heinze and et. al., 2012). Support of trusted social groups and valued individuals helps to reduce the mental stress. It helps to reduce both psychological and physiological consequences to a great extent. Moreover, support system comprises of formal and informal support from society. Meeting with friends, relatives and going society, clubs etc provides a sense of belonging, safety, security and relationship within the community. Thus, it can be concluded that there is a great tie between the wellbeing and support level. Extensive support level helps to mitigate both the homelessness and mental illness of the people and vice versa.

Lack of qualification: It is one of the reasons of unemployment. Moreover, people who are less educated were employed at lower wage rates. Therefore, their income level is very low. Hence, they cannot afford to have their own houses. Therefore, due to lack of qualification and income, people are unable to purchase and build their residence. It, further, leads to cause homelessness. Along with it, less income level causes stress in everyone's mind for survival. Moreover, uneducated people feel hesitation to talk with other educated people. It causes consciousness in them thereby causes various mental health problems as well. Thus, it can be said that lack of educational and professional qualifications causes both mental illness and homelessness.

Higher debts and mortgage: People take loans for different purposes such as starting their own business, marriages etc. Loans are not only required by the unemployed persons but are also taken by the people who are working somewhere. Banks and other financial institutions provide loans on the basis of collateral security. Most of the people keep their property document as security. In case of making any default in repayments of loans, loan providers have right to discharge the security provided to them. Therefore, in case when people do not repay the mortgages, their property can be repossessed by the mortgage company thereby making people homeless (Pallard and et. al., 2015). Moreover, higher debts require proper arrangements of funds to repay them. This causes stress and depression in the mind of an individual. This in turn, resulted in mental health consequences.

Relationship breakdowns: Homelessness also results due to conflict in family relationships. In society, there is rise in number of people who are leaving their houses because of breaking down of the relationships and family conflicts. Young people who are living alone from their parents because of poor family relationships also result in homelessness to them. Moreover, the worst family relationships and conflicts among them creates mental disturbance because homeless person will get highly stressed and depressed (Yıldırım and Yıldırım, 2014). Moreover, the parents will be anxious about the child's life and their survival. This in turn, resulted in mental illness to all the family members.

Crime involvement: One of the most important factors is involvement in crime at an earlier age. In case, when child left their house and family, the possibility of involving in crime related activities increases. They get involved in thieving activities to fulfil their monetary requirements. This in turn makes people become homeless. Theft also brought fear and stress to the mind of an individual which resulted in poor mental health issues.

Family background: This category of classification is concerned with all the family problems which include family disputes, abusing with the child and using drugs or alcohol. They are explained as below:

Family disputes: Many times, family members fight with each other for the property. The family member desires to have physical possession and legal rights on the homes. Another reason for family disputes is domestic violence. Hence, women who do not feel safety and security at her home, leave home with their children thereby become homeless. Moreover, the family disputes results into poor homely environment. Every member feel stressed and panic mental conditions. The disputes highly impact the children in an adverse manner. Moreover, women will be highly depressed in case of domestic violence. Every time they feel very insecure and unsafe. They left the houses for making children’s life safe and secure thereby tends to become homelessness (Payne, Macgregor and McDonald, 2015). Another with it is a greater possibility of suicide which is because of depression. Along with the mental stress and depressed conditions, women also feel lack of belongingness due to living life alone. It brings negative thinking in their minds which further resulted in mental illness. Therefore, it can be said that domestic violence and all other kinds of family disputes bring problems of homelessness and mental consequences.

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Abusing family behaviour: Abuse includes both physical and sexual abuse. The research for homelessness and mental problems predicts that almost all the homeless children are abused ones. Physical and sexual abuse affects the children’s internal and external behaviour. Internal behaviour comprises of anxiousness, depressions, personality and mental disorder while external behaviours include children aggressiveness. All these are long term consequences for abusing behaviour. Sexual abuse impacts the development of brain and mental health (Moyo, Patel and Ross, 2015). It results in extensive anger, fear, low self esteem, anxiety and depression. Thus, it can be interpreted that abusing at childhood and adolescence stage causes mental health related issues to the person life.

Addiction behaviour: In the present age, the number of addicts is increasing at a rapid rate. It refers to the person’s habit of using alcohol products and drugs that resulted in homelessness. People are addicted by the use of cocaine, opiates, cannabis drugs, heroin and other alcoholic products. Initially, drugs fulfil their voluntarily requirement but after that, it turned out to be their necessary requirement that provide higher level of satisfaction to them. People spent larger amount of funds on their addiction habits without considering their family requirements. Moreover, in the absence of funds, there is a greater possibility of involving in crime as well. The reason for homelessness is that drug users are unwilling and unable to fulfil their family necessities. People use alcohol to overcome from various problems. They spent all their earnings to accomplish their addiction requirement. This in turn causes homelessness problem in substance users (Bassuk, Richard and Tsertsvadze, 2015).  In UK, more than 20% of people become homeless due to their addiction habits. Moreover, addiction of drugs and alcohol not only affects the user but only impact their family members as well. It influenced the mental health condition of individual in distinct ways. Depression and Schizophrenia are the most significant impacts among mental disorder. ‘Schizophrenia’, as the term indicates is a mental illness that results into blind beliefs, changing way of thinking, hallucinations and reduction in motivation level. All of these symptoms have long lasting consequences. It includes disorganizing thinking and hearing problems. The users will not be able to understand what others are delivering to them. Moreover, the mental disorder also includes depression, hearing voice problems, stress, panic and fear of disputes (Homelessness, 2007). Domestic violence is also the most important issue that results from the addiction habits that causes numerous mental health issues. Thus, it becomes clear that there is a great possibility of becoming a homeless people due to addictive behaviour that further cause mental illness as well to an individual.        Thus, on the basis of above identified factors, it can be said that all the internal factors are resultant of individual as well as social factors. These factors can be controlled by the people. Hence, are also termed as controllable factors. For instance, addiction habits, abusing behaviour, family disputes, loss of breaking down the relationships and involvement in crime can be controlled by the people. This in turn, helps to minimize the problem of homelessness and mental health problems.

Structural factors: It includes all the economic factors which prevail in the economy. Hence, they cannot be controlled by the people. The factors include unemployment, poverty, housing policies, wider policy developments and lack of ability of affordable housing (Milby and et. al., 2015). It helps to identify the relationship between homelessness and mental illness. The factors are described here as follows:

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Unemployment: It is one of the serious problems that are facing by citizens of UK. In the present age, the level of competition became fierce. Moreover, technological improvements have been increasing at faster rate. This in turn has resulted into lower creation of jobs and higher UK unemployment rate. It refers to the conditions in which people have no work to do and they are unemployed. Therefore, people will not be able to generate adequate level of incomes for spending better lives (Macnaughton and et al., 2015). The reason behind homelessness is that jobless people will not be able to afford their own residences. Moreover, curtailment of jobs and worker pay-off are the reasons for unemployment that results in increasing number of homelessness people. Lack of work majorly contributes towards the increasing number of people who become homeless. Rising in number of jobless people tend to increase the problem of homelessness. Moreover, the unemployed people became very depressed and stressed because of lack of work. They feel highly tensed and became hopeless of getting work. In the present time, not only the unable person but also skilled and able labour force is unemployed thereby resulted in mental disorder problems. Therefore, it becomes clear that there is a great possibility for unemployed people becoming homeless and face negative mental consequences. It also impacts the economic growth in an adverse manner.

Poverty: It is a stage where people have no availability of money for surviving better life. Overpopulation, social inequality, discrimination, unstable political situation, natural disasters and higher nation debts are the reasons of poverty. Poor people are not able to accomplish their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. Increasing poverty of the people results in lower level of income. Thus, poor people do not have sufficient availability of money. Hence, they cannot afford their own houses thereby leads to the problem of homelessness (Bartels, 2015). They are living in tents and cardboard boxes and became homeless. Further, they are facing mental pressures and depressed conditions due to lack of funds that result in mental consequences.

Housing policies: In UK, the house prices are increasing at exponential rates. Moreover, the sizes of houses are smaller as compared to those in European Countries. Therefore, UK government make housing policy in which they construct houses and provide accommodation facilities to the citizens at minimum rental charges. It is the best way of providing immediate services to the homeless people at affordable prices. Furthermore, through developing wider housing policy, UK government can greatly respond to the problems of housing shortage. Through building new homes and providing it to the people at favourable prices, homelessness can be highly reduced. In context to UK, the housing policy constructs number of houses to eliminate housing shortage. This in turn, helps to tackle consequences of homelessness. However, in the absence of these kinds of policies, people will not be able to afford housing facilities that resulted in homelessness and mental illness (Johnson and et. al., 2015).  Therefore, people will be highly satisfied and less depressed with regards to their residences availability and life spending. Thus, it becomes clear that UK affordable housing designs, housing numbers and new building standards mitigate the homeless problems to large number of people.

Lack of ability of affordable houses: People who are not financially able to afford their own private houses will turn out to become homeless. In UK, rural communities are not able to afford their own houses due to lack of funds. People are unable to purchase their own houses. Moreover, they cannot borrow larger funds because of high interest rates. Furthermore, affordability crisis arises due to higher construction costs of building. Therefore, they are becoming homeless which results in increasing issues of homelessness. Therefore, it causes mental health consequences such as mental pressure, depressed and stress.

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The essay concluded that homelessness and mental issues are interrelated to each other. The report explained that there are number of factors that causes homelessness and resulted into mental health problems. It includes poverty, lack of education, addiction habits, unemployment, and lack of society support, family disputes, abusing behaviour, crime involvement and relationships breakdowns. There are some of the factors that are related to individual person and hence, can be controlled by them. However, the economic factors are uncontrollable and affect the economic development and growth. The report furthermore concluded that both the homelessness and mental illness are related positively with each other. Higher level of homelessness imposes higher mental health disorder to individuals and vice versa.


  • Bartels, S. J., 2015. Can behavioral health organizations change health behaviors? The STRIDE study and lifestyle interventions for obesity in serious mental illness. American Journal of Psychiatry.
  • Bassuk, E. L., Richard, M.K. and Tsertsvadze, A., 2015. The prevalence of mental illness in homeless children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 54(2). pp. 86-96.
  • Heinze, H. J. and et. al., 2012. Reasons for homelessness: An empirical typology. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies. 7(1). pp. 88-101.
  • Macnaughton, E. and et al.,  2015. Implementing Housing First Across Sites and Over Time: Later Fidelity and Implementation Evaluation of a Pan-Canadian Multi-site Housing First Program for Homeless People with Mental Illness. American journal of community psychology. 55(3-4). pp. 279-291.
  • Milby, J. B. and et. al., 2015. Comorbidity effects on cocaine dependence treatment and examination of reciprocal relationships between abstinence and depression. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology. 83(1), p. 45.
  • Pallard, H. and et. al., 2015. Homelessness in North Bay, Ontario, Canada. OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, 8(04), pp. 37-50.
  • Payne, J., Macgregor, S. and McDonald, H., 2015. Homelessness and Housing Stress Among Police Detainees: Results from the DUMA Program. Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, (492), p. 1.
  • Yıldırım, N. and Yıldırım, K., 2014. HOMELESSNESS WITHIN SOCIAL CHANGE. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 5(22). p. 418.
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