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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.

Help for housing emergencies and homelessness

Anxiety and homelessness

When Ben found himself homeless, he had to deal with a system that didn't understand his needs. This is his story.

General housing support

Housing problems can feel very difficult to deal with, especially if you are experiencing mental health problems. But there are organisations who provide specialist advice and support for different types of housing issue:

Our housing useful contacts page lists many more organisations who can help with your housing issues.

If you rent a home from a housing association or social landlord, you could ask if they offer any advice or assistance for housing problems. This may include offering hardship payments if you are struggling with money.

If you live in student accommodation, you might be able to get help from your university or college, such as through your Students' Union. This includes asking for help with accommodation which isn't run by the university or college, such private rental property. Citizens Advice has more information on student housing in England and student housing in Wales.

“My house is full of mould and the stress of trying to get it sorted triggered my anxiety and depression. I've been signed off work, have no money and the landlord won't do any repair work. I fear being thrown out but I hate being at home.”

Support for money, relationships and practical issues

Many of us struggle with problems related to our housing. For example, this could be difficulties with money, relationships or practical issues. But there are ways to get help:

Help with money problems

These pages may help if you are struggling with money problems, including financial issues related to housing:

Social services support

If you find it difficult to look after yourself, you may be able to get help from your local social services. This could be if your mental health makes it hard to do things like cooking, cleaning or paying bills.

If you ask your local council's social services team for help, they must do a 'needs assessment'. This is their process to judge what type of care and support you may need. You can apply for a needs assessment on the UK Government website for any council in England or Wales.

Social care can be provided in your own home. Or you may be offered specialist accommodation to help with your needs.

See our pages on social care for information about your legal rights to social care and support, including information about needs assessments.

The NHS also has a page on assessing your care and support needs. And our page on crisis houses has information on short-term accommodation if you are having a mental health crisis.

Relationship support

The charity Relate offers support if you are experiencing difficulties with any kind of relationship, including people you live with. Their services include relationship counselling and advice for different types of relationship problem. 

Staying somewhere you feel frightened

If you're living with people who frighten you or threaten to make you homeless, this might be abuse. Our page on abuse has details of where you can turn to for support.

Advocacy

Advocates can help you get your voice heard. This may help if you are finding it hard to get access to any social services you are entitled to. For example, they may be able to support you with getting the help you need from your local council.

See our pages on advocacy for more information.

“I don't think the importance of a safe and stable environment can be overstated. In my own case it has been essential.”

Managing housing during hospital stays

If you might need to go into hospital because of your mental health, it is understandable to worry about what may happen to your home.

It can help to plan how to manage different aspects of your housing, in case you do need to go to hospital:

  • Money, bills and debts. It may help to think about how your money is managed while you are in hospital. Rethink Mental Illness has a page on going into hospital with information about how your money may be affected. Our pages on money and mental health have more advice on managing money, bills and debts, including when you are struggling with your mental health.
  • Benefits. If you receive benefits, you will need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that you are in hospital. This may affect your benefits entitlement. The UK Government website has more information about going into hospital if you get benefits.
  • Children. If you have children who live with you, you may feel especially worried about being admitted to hospital. Our page on parenting in a crisis has tips for planning what will happen if you need to be admitted to hospital.
  • Pets. If you have a pet and you are going into hospital, your local council has a duty to arrange care for your pet. But you might need to pay for any costs involved.

The online advice service Mental Health & Money Advice has more information on managing your money if you have to go into hospital. This includes information on what may happen to your home and pets if you need to go into hospital.

You may also find our page on being treated in hospital helpful.

“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 have been sectioned under certain sections of the Mental Health Act, you may be entitled to free aftercare from your local council when you leave hospital. This can cover many different things, including social care and supported accommodation. See our page on section 117 aftercare for more information, including whether you may be able to get this support.
  • If you are homeless when you leave hospital and you are classified as a 'priority need', you may be entitled to accommodation from your local council. Sometimes hospital staff can support you when you are in contact with the local council.

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.

This information was published in October 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

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