My housing and my mental health
Chris explains why being helped to keep his flat was so important when he was unwell.
My life was going pretty successfully until about five years ago. I was in a really serious car accident which left me in hospital in a coma for three months. While I was in there, people were still expecting to get paid and a lot of money was owed to a lot of different people, including rent.
I was thousands of pounds in debt when I got home. I needed to readjust my body and mind to the injuries, but instead I came home to lots of confusion. My mental health was really bad. We received a letter saying ‘threat of eviction’ on it – that was a big shock.
"I have now been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I know I would be in a much worse place if I had lost my home."
If you’re not well, it’s hard to do the small things. My Housing Association put me in touch with their Benefits and Welfare Officer. My home is a source of stability in my life, so being able to keep it after the support the Housing Association provided meant that it was one less thing I had to feel anxious about while I was dealing with what happened. The stability is there for all of us, for my family.
Over the last few years I have been learning how to manage my mental health. I have now been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I know I would be in a much worse place if I had lost my home. After the accident small things were difficult. Having a home to come back to at the end of the day is helping me go to my volunteering, or group classes - all the things I need to do to keep well or start getting better.
"When you say ‘where you live’ it’s not just four walls and a telly - you’ve got neighbours, and you’ve got shops, a community."
Without a home, what other source of stability have you got in your life? I can’t imagine how it must be to be homeless and I count myself lucky. My flat is more than just a flat. When you say ‘where you live’ it’s not just four walls and a telly - you’ve got neighbours, and you’ve got shops, a community. Everyone who knew me and knew my situation helped me to manage my mental health and come to terms with what happened.
"I think the understanding that the Housing Association had when it came to mental health was vital. They looked at the person, not just the tenant."
Things can change so quickly - if you miss one rent payment suddenly you’re in debt. When you’re living with a mental health problem there is so much stress, and you hear so many stories about when it goes wrong – I can’t imagine. Who knows what could have happened to me if I’d had private landlord, or someone that didn’t offer support?
I think the understanding that the Housing Association had when it came to mental health was vital. They looked at the person, not just the tenant.
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