Housing and mental health

Explains how your mental health and your housing situation might affect each other. Provides tips on how to cope and where you can get more support.

Your stories

Homeless with PTSD - how drumming helped me through

Matt blogs about overcoming his past to break the drumming world record for Mind.

Matt
Posted on 10/08/2017

Support not sanctions

Kerry blogs about being too unwell to work and needing support from the welfare system but being let down.

Kerry
Posted on 17/05/2017

Support when you leave hospital

We're calling for everyone leaving hospital after a mental health crisis to be followed up within 48 hours.

Ally Cobb, Mind Senior Policy and Campaigns officer
Posted on 12/04/2017

What can I do to help myself?

This page has some practical tips and suggestions for you to consider.

Both myself and my husband have lost our jobs due to my mental health… We had a reasonable salary and bought a house. However, the mortgage interest support was not enough to cover all our interest payments.​​

Get professional housing advice

It can feel really hard to ask for help with housing problems, but there are lots of people you can turn to. You could:

  • Contact your local council. You may be able to get help or advice from your local council (also known as your local authority) – you can find their details on the Gov.uk website.
  • Contact a specialist organisation. For example, you can contact Citizens Advice and Shelter England or Shelter Cymru for advice on many kinds of housing problems. Our useful contacts page lists many more organisations who can advise on issues such as losing your home, getting repairs done, or problems with landlords or neighbours.
  • Get help from a trade union. If you belong to a trade union, they might offer advice and help with housing problems. Some unions also help members' partners or relatives.
  • Ask your housing association. If you rent a home from a housing association or social landlord, they may offer advice and assistance including hardship payments.
  • Contact an advocate. Advocates can help you get your voice heard. This can be extremely valuable if you're finding it hard to get access to the services you're entitled to on your own, for example if you’re not getting the help you need from your local authority. (See our pages on advocacy for more information.)

If necessary ask for someone to attend meetings and speak on your behalf, but above all don't give up. I now have a secure home and it was worth all of the effort.

Problems with student housing
Even if your college or university doesn't provide accommodation, they might still have an advice team who can help with housing problems. It could also help to talk to your Student Union.

Find out more about student housing on the Citizens Advice website, and see our pages on coping with student life.

Read Kerry's blog about being let down by the welfare system after experiencing abuse and homelessness as a student, and how she coped.

I got help to move home through [my] GP, Victim Support and the police – [they helped] by writing letters for me. Housing Association [housing is] so much better than [the] council tower block. [I] feel settled and safe... Matter of geography and postcodes often unfortunately.

Am I entitled to any social services support?

If you find it very difficult to look after yourself (for example if your mental health problem makes it hard for you to cook, clean your home or pay for utilities), then you may be entitled to get help in your home from your local authority. 

If you ask your local authority's social services team for help, they must assess your care and support needs by doing a needs assessment. Social care can be provided in your own home or can include accommodation.

For more information on:

(See our legal pages for more information about your rights in different situations.)

The council told me they would provide me with housing benefit, but when I moved in it nowhere near covered the amount of rent [...] I have gone through so many appeals for housing as I am experiencing debt and they won't help.

Get support and treatment for your health problems

Homelessness and housing problems can trigger mental health problems including depressionanxietypanic attackspsychosisself-harm or suicidal feelings. They can also make existing problems worse or make it harder to cope.

To access support and treatment for your mental health, try these options:

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.

Accessing health and social care if you're homeless
Everyone in England and Wales has the right to register with a GP and use their services. You don't need to provide a fixed address or show ID. For more information on seeing a doctor if you're homeless, see:

You should also be able to access social care if you are homeless.

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.


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