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Research: The impact of housing problems on mental health

By: Marcus McPhillips
Published: July 2017

The impact of housing problems on mental health

Shelter in partnership with the research agency, ComRes, explored the relationship between housing and mental health through a two-stage research project in early 2017. This research was central to Shelter’s 2017 Spring Advice and Services Campaign, and it is hoped it will provide a future evidence base for the necessary debate on how to reduce the negative impact housing problems can have on people’s mental health and usage of health services.

Key findings from interviews with 20 GPs in urban areas

  • GPs spontaneously identified housing issues when discussing factors involved in their patients’ mental health presentations.

  • Where housing was seen as the sole cause of mental health conditions, the most commonly cited conditions were anxiety and depression.

  • Where patients presented with a mental health condition that was linked to problems with housing, the GPs felt they had a knowledge and support gap.

Key findings from survey of 3,500 English adults

  • 1 in 5 English adults (21%) said a housing issue had negatively impacted upon their mental health in the last 5 years.

  • Housing affordability was the most frequently referenced issue by those who saw housing pressures having had a negative impact upon their mental health.

  • 3 in 10 of those who have had a housing problem or worry in the last five years, not only said that it had had a negative mental impact, but that they had no issue with their mental health previously.