Homelessness is an increasing issue within the UK. Evidence shows that there is a considerable link between homelessness and mental health problems; however, this link is often overlooked.
- In 2014, 80% of homeless people in England reported that they had mental health issues, with 45% having been diagnosed with a mental health condition.1
- Studies have reported a higher prevalence of mental health problems in the homeless population in comparison to the general population, including major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Statistics suggest the prevalence of mental health conditions in this population to be at least 25–30% of the street homeless and those in direct access hostels.2
- The most prevalent health problems among homeless individuals are substance misuse (62.5%), mental health problems (53.7%) or a combination of the two (42.6%). In England, given that these problems are causally linked with homelessness, they add significantly more costs to homelessness due to the need for health and social care support. Unfortunately, the exact figure of estimated costs is unavailable at present.3
- Like many marginalised groups, the relationship between homelessness and mental health can be two way. Many homeless people cite mental health problems as a reason for being homeless - 26% of homeless people in the UK (this is double the percentage of that in the rest of the EU).4
1 WHO. (2011). Global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level: Report by the Secretariat. Retrieved from apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/ pdf_files/EB130/B130_9-en.pdf [Accessed 02/07/16].
2 WHO. (2014). Mental Health Atlas. Retrieved from who.int/ mental_health/evidence/atlas/mental_health_atlas_2014/en/ [Accessed 05/07/16].
3 Department of Health. (2014). Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2013: Public Mental Health Priorities: Investing in the Evidence. Retrieved from gov.uk/government/publications/chief-medical-officer-cmoannual-report-public-mental-health [Accessed 05/08/16].
4 Centre for Mental Health. (2010). The Economic and Social Costs of Mental Health Problems in 2009/10. Centre for Mental Health. Retrieved from ispraisrael.org.il/Items/00649/Economic_and_social_costs_2010.pdf [Accessed 04/11/16].