Housing pressures contribute to rising mental ill-health

A new survey by Shelter has revealed that millions of people in England are suffering mentally because of housing problems.

A report from Shelter and ComRes has shown 21 per cent of adults have experienced issues including long-term stress, anxiety and depression due to a housing problem over the last five years.

Additionally, 17 per cent of adults claimed the pressure of housing problems also affected their physical health with some reporting symptoms such as hair loss, nausea, exhaustion, dizzy spells and headaches.

Indicating the link between housing and mental health are, the research found that 69 per cent of people who have experienced housing problems in the last five years such as poor conditions, struggling to pay the rent or being threatened with eviction, have reported a negative impact on their mental health.

An in-depth investigation with 20 GPs revealed many people are having to visit their doctor owing to bad housing. The investigation found: GPs said some patients are diagnosed with anxiety and depression directly due to housing problems; bad housing is tipping people with existing mental health issues ‘over the edge’; poor housing conditions are having the biggest effect on mental health but unaffordable and unstable rented housing are also having a negative impact; and GPs felt they need more help in supporting patients experiencing these problems.

Liz Clare, Shelter legal adviser, 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.

“But getting advice and support for housing problems early can ease the pressure and stop things spiraling out of control. Shelter’s free expert advice is only a click or conversation away – visit shelter.org.uk/advice as a starting point or pop into your local Shelter service.”