Our pages on types of mental health problems and types of treatments also provide more information that might help, including tips on self-care and useful contacts for getting support.
I just need to have a stable life. I just want to be settled.... I'm so tired, all of the moving, and stress... It's draining me.
Physical health problems
You might experience physical symptoms such as dizzy spells, losing your hair, feeling exhausted or being sick. These could be signs of mental or physical health problems. It's important to get seen by a doctor so they can check you over and help you access the right kind of treatment.
When Ben found himself homeless, he had to deal with a system that didn’t understand his needs. This is his story:
My house is full of mould and the stress of trying to get it sorted triggered my anxiety and depression. I have now been signed off work for nearly three months – I have no money and the landlord will not do any repair work… I fear being thrown out but I hate being at home.
Problems with drugs or alcohol
If you have a mental health problem and also have problems with drug or alcohol use, you will probably be described as having dual diagnosis (meaning both problems are diagnosed together). This can make finding somewhere suitable to live even more complicated.
For information and sources of support, see our pages on the mental health effects of recreational drugs and alcohol and addiction and dependency. You can also search for local services for drug misuse or alcohol addiction on the NHS Choices website.
Manage hospital stays
It's understandable to worry about what will happen to your home if you have to go into hospital. Making some plans in advance could help.
- Benefits. If you're receiving benefits you will need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that you're in hospital as this may affect your entitlement. (See our page on benefits for more information.)
- Money, bills and debts. You will need to think about how your money is managed while in hospital. Rethink Mental Illness' resource Going into hospital: money matters provides some useful information. (See our pages on money and mental health for more advice on managing money, bills and debts.)
- Children. If you have children who live with you, being admitted to hospital can cause you lots of extra worries. (See our page on parenting in a crisis for more information.)
- Pets. If you have a pet and are going into hospital, your local authority has a duty to arrange care for your pet. But you might need to pay for any costs involved.
I nearly lost my flat because I was in hospital... the cooker and things [were] left on and getting damaged.
When you leave hospital
You may be entitled to accommodation when you come out of hospital. For example:
- If you've been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, you may be entitled to free aftercare from your local authority when you leave hospital. This can cover many different things, including social care and supported accommodation. (See our legal pages on leaving hospital for more information.)
- If you're homeless when you leave hospital, you may be entitled to accommodation from your local authority.
I was offered [accommodation] whilst I was still in hospital… that assurance that I’d have somewhere to move into made a lot of difference.
Build your support network
Housing problems can affect your relationships and leave you without a support network. You might lose touch with people or feel like you don't know where to turn. Even if you do have supportive friends or family in your life, it can be hard to open up about housing problems. But it could be a relief to share your worries.
Here are some options for getting support or making new connections:
- Telephone support. There are many helplines you can call to talk to someone. For example, you can call Samaritans any time of day or night for free on 116 123. See our page on telephone support for many more suggestions.
- Peer support groups. Peer support brings together people who've had similar experiences to support each other. This can be a valuable option if you don't feel like you have friends or family to turn to. (See our pages on peer support for more information, including tips on finding a peer support group that suits you.)
- Elefriends is Mind's supportive online community. Online support groups can be a good way to connect with people quickly and cheaply. (Find out more on our Elefriends page. If you're new to online communities, you might also find it helpful to read our pages on staying safe online.)
- Free or low-cost classes and groups can be a good way to meet people who share your interests. Even if you don't find it easy to make friends, it can be helpful to have a fixed time each week to forget about your housing problems and focus on something you enjoy. Many local libraries, community centres and sports centres run clubs, classes and groups which you could join.
- Local Minds may be able to help you. They provide services such as peer support, counselling and advocacy. Find your local Mind here.
See our pages on coping with loneliness for more suggestions and options for support.
Watch Justin talk about how going to his local Mind helped him:
If you can't leave your home
Some mental health problems can make it hard to go outside, for example if you experience social anxiety (also known as social phobia) or agoraphobia. For more information on coping with these kinds of problems, see our pages on phobias.
Unfortunately, the only place we were offered was far from my family and I am a long term sufferer of depression. My condition has deteriorated a huge amount since moving here.
Look after yourself
No matter what your housing situation is currently, here are some ideas that might help.
- Take small steps. You might feel overwhelmed or unsure of where to start. Try to choose something small and achievable to do first, like reading our page of useful contacts and getting in touch with one of the organisations listed.
- Keep a routine. Whether it's going to sleep at the same time or walking down a particular street, having a routine can help you feel like you have some control over things.
- Be kind to yourself. You might feel badly about yourself or put yourself down. It's important not to blame yourself for things that are outside of your control, or if you feel you've made a mistake – try to tell yourself the sorts of things you might say to a friend.
- Try to get some exercise. Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing. You could try something simple like walking or running, or look for free or cheap leisure cards in your local area. (See our pages on sport, physical activity and mental health for more information.)
- Take time out. Taking time for yourself could help you feel calmer, even if it's just for a few minutes. You could read a book or magazine, or spend some time in green space (see our pages on ecotherapy for more information on the mental health benefits of spending time in nature).
- Learn ways to cope with stress. Our pages on relaxation and coping with sleep problems suggest some exercises that might help you find a few moments of calm. The NHS Choices website suggests this breathing exercise, which you can try anywhere and only takes a few minutes.
See our pages on managing stress, improving and maintaining your mental wellbeing and how to increase your self-esteem for more suggestions.
If you're currently caring for anyone else, our pages on how to cope when supporting someone else may also provide more options for support.
I like living somewhere that I’m looked after, somewhere that I share. I wouldn’t change this. When I’m by myself, I suffer, I get frightened. I need somebody.
This information was published in October 2017 – to be revised in 2019. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.