What role does housing play in tackling mental health?

We hear from CEO Charlie Norman and Peter Molyneux, Chair at Sussex Partnership NHS Trust to address how housing can achieve the outcomes that people with mental health issues need.

Charlie Norman, Chief Executive, Mosscare St Vincent’s.

“At Mossacere St Vincent’s, we recently took part in a ‘time to talk, time to change’ session, encouraging us all to talk about mental health.

Personally, I have seen some tragic events, such as the suicide of my daughter’s friend – a young man at university with so much to look forward to.

With the withdrawal of mental health services in so many localities, it is increasingly incumbent on all of us who work in social housing to make mental wellbeing a priority.

Once upon a time, Nye Bevan was the minister for health AND housing, and I think it is still true today that health and housing are so fundamentally linked.

We know that human beings faced with poverty or living in sub-standard housing are at greater risk of poor health and low mental wellbeing.

Christine, one of our residents at our new HAPPI (Housing for the Ageing Population Panel for Innovation) scheme in Bury moved to the scheme after an injury to her neck stopped her working and she struggled to walk.

Having had few neighbours nearby and not being able to get out led to her suffering with depression.

After moving to the HAPPI scheme she had more neighbours around her and a home that better suited her needs. She is now less reliant on health care and feels happier.

Improving people’s housing and access to life opportunities not only saves money for the public purse, but it also boosts the wellbeing, health and happiness of people like Christine.

Isn’t that what we are all about?”

Peter Molyneux, Chair, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“If we are going to achieve the outcomes that people with mental health problems need, meaningful integration with housing in terms of the quality of the housing, recovery-based services and services that help with community integration will be crucial.

Housing and support providers are integral to care pathways, as they provide housing advice, crisis houses, step-up/step-down accommodation, care for people with learning disabilities, and extra care housing.

There is good evidence that services that provide interventions in a therapeutic way use reflective practice that can identify changes in risk signatures and make a real difference to someone’s recovery.

If there are challenges to achieving the vision set out in the long-term plan, then the ‘elephant in the room’ is workforce.

There are opportunities to pool resources, develop training academies and evidence-based approaches to retention that could help those furthest from the labour market – those who could be part of the solution to some of the workforce challenges.

Housing organisations possess the skillsets that can help to make a difference to place-based models of care.

If they are not utilised, the potential benefit of integrated care systems for millions of some of the most vulnerable people in society will not be fully realised.”