Housing and mental health
Explains how housing and mental health can affect each other. Provides tips for coping and where to find support, and information on your legal rights.
How is housing linked with mental health?
Housing and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make it harder to cope with housing problems. And being homeless or having problems where you live can make your mental health worse.
Housing problems can affect our mental health in many different ways. But there are some common mental health problems that you may experience if you are struggling with your housing:
- If you live somewhere insecure or overcrowded, you might experience stress or anxiety. You may also feel anxious about the cost of your housing, or because of the people you live with.
- Some mental health problems can cause feelings of anxiety in situations where you don't feel safe or comfortable, including where you live. Or they might make you feel anxious being around unfamiliar people. This includes social phobia, also known as social anxiety, and agoraphobia.
- If you live somewhere that is noisy, crowded or uncomfortable, you might experience sleep problems. Feeling stressed or anxious about housing could also affect your sleep. Poor sleep can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems harder to cope with.
- You might experience depression or low self-esteem because of housing problems. For example, this may happen if you need to move around a lot, making you feel less secure and affecting your relationships.
- Your living situation might make you feel lonely. This might happen if you live alone. Or it may be that you live with people you don't know that well or don't feel comfortable around.
- Problems with recreational drugs and alcohol are not mental health problems, but they are often connected. If you struggle with recreational drugs or alcohol, you may also find it difficult to find housing. This could make your mental health problems even harder to cope with.
Our pages on types of mental health problems have more information about different mental health problems and experiences, and how to get help.
I got off the streets because of my children
“Living on the streets made my condition even harder to deal with, and my condition made living on the streets harder, too.”
What housing problems might affect my mental health?
There may be housing-related problems which are difficult to cope with if you are struggling with your mental health. For example:
- Money problems are often connected to housing and mental health. This might include struggling to afford rent, mortgage payments or bills. Or you may be affected by changes to housing-related benefits. Your mental health or housing situation might also mean you find it difficult to work, which could affect your income.
- Living with mental health problems can make it harder to cope with any practical difficulties with your housing. This may include keeping on top of bills and letters, or dealing with landlords or housing associations.
- You may find it difficult to keep up with cleaning and maintaining your living space. This may feel especially hard if you experience certain mental health problems, such as depression, hoarding or OCD.
- Poor living conditions, such as a damp, mouldy or cold environment, can cause physical health problems. If you don't have access to cooking or washing facilities, you might find it hard to eat healthily and care for yourself. Experiencing physical health problems can often affect your mental health.
- Some housing issues can lead to relationship problems. For example, feeling angry or stressed can cause arguments or make it hard to discuss housing issues. Or the breakdown of a relationship, such as with a partner or parent, may cause a difficult, stressful living situation.
Mental health at home
Watch Billy, Lucie, Lucy and Miles share their experiences of how their living situations and mental health problems affect each other.
Support for your mental health
There are lots of ways to find support if you are experiencing mental health problems:
- You can speak to your GP about your mental health. Our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem include tips on taking the first steps with talking to your GP about how you feel.
- The NHS website has lots of information about physical and mental health problems and how to get support. If you want to talk to someone about your health, you can also contact NHS 111 if you live in England, or NHS 111 Wales if you live in Wales (in Wales, you can select option 2 for urgent mental health support).
- Our pages on mental health support and services have more information on the ways in which you can find support for your mental health.
- If you support someone else with mental health problems, our pages on how to cope when supporting someone else may help.
Mind also offers lots of different ways to get support for your mental health:
- Mind's helplines provide information and support by phone and email.
- Local Minds offer face-to-face services across England and Wales. These services include talking therapies, peer support and advocacy.
- Side by Side is our supportive online community for anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
When I'm depressed I struggle with the upkeep of the house. I can't keep it clean, and landlords don't like that.
Accessing healthcare if you are homeless
Anyone can register with a GP to receive treatment and support for their health. You do not need to have a fixed address. But it can still feel more difficult to register if you are homeless. This information may help:
- The NHS guide to registering with a GP has information about accessing a GP practice in your area.
- The homelessness charity Groundswell's My Right to Healthcare card may help if you're struggling to register with a GP.
- Groundswell and Mind also have a guide to your rights to mental health support if you're homeless (PDF - new window).
Homelessness day centres may be also able to help you access healthcare services. Some centres may arrange for you to talk to a doctor or nurse at the centre. The charity Homeless Link has a directory of homelessness services in England, including day centres.
Tips for your wellbeing
If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing, there are many things you can try to help yourself. You might find it useful to explore our pages on:
This information was published in October 2021. We will revise it in 2024.
References and bibliography available on request.
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