Homelessness Hidden Causes

Exploring the impact of mental health on homelessness

Research from a 2017 project supported by The Harpur Trust and led by Amicus Trust, has outlined the strong link between poor mental health and homelessness in Bedford. Of the homeless adults accessing support from project 75% reported poor mental health, with 64% of these suffering with diagnosed mental health conditions, the remaining 36% either required diagnosis or support in understanding and managing their mental health.

There is a strong link between mental health and homelessness, it is not only a leading cause of homelessness but can often relate to issues in the beneficiaries history, 86% of clients supported had experienced some kind of trauma including domestic / parental violence, sexual abuse, abandonment, conflict (veterans) and bereavement or other life threatening situations. Without a channel to discuss or overcome these issues it can be clear why some adults resort to self-medication through drugs and alcohol or are unable to manage relationships, support themselves independently and as a result end up homeless.

“the homeless community do not generally engage with therapy and yet with an average of 8 out of 10 homeless adults reporting mental health issues they have the greatest need – without overcoming mental heath issues many will not be able to escape a life of homelessness “ Adrian Henson, Mental Health Lead at Amicus Trust explained why he thought the project has been successful “we have a flexible and less authoritarian approach which means we are more approachable and trusted, and do not exclude people with chaotic lives of drug / alcohol issues. This has enabled individuals to reveal some of their traumatic history and we can support through this, or if required support them in engaging with signposted support to hospital or clinicians’”

The service is designed to fit around the clients and their lives, not the other way round, with all support being delivered directly at the point of need. The project delivered some strong outcomes - during a 12 month period 74% of beneficiaries reported improved mental health, 62% were able to better manage anxiety, 58% were able to better manager anger and 37% moved on to independent living.
In 2017 The Harpur Trust funded the initial salary of the Mental Health lead and following a successful application in 2018 have committed to a further 2 years of continuation funding to keep this valuable project going.

Lucy Bardner Community Programmes Director for The Harpur Trust explained why they wanted to continue to support the project “ The Harpur Trust is investing considerable funds in tackling the issue of homelessness in Bedford – this year alone we awarded £341,497 to projects supporting homeless people in the Borough. We have been delighted to continue to fund Amicus Trust as part of this commitment to tackling homelessness within the borough, given the impressive outcomes achieved in the first year.” 
Janet Prince, CEO of Amicus Trust concluded “ Many of our beneficiaries, for a variety of reasons ,cannot or do not engage with mainstream mental health support, this service bridges the gap and supports individuals in understanding and managing their own mental health as well as engaging in other support services – the outcomes of the project have been amazing and helped people move away from homelessness”

Amicus Trust, started out as a soup kitchen in Bedford 1974 and now offer accommodation and support to homeless adults. Amicus Trust’s Mental Health project is free and available to homeless adults in Bedford. If you want to find our more or need support please call now on 01234 358478