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Stable Homes and Mental Health: Breaking the Cycle

By Ethan Pham

Despite having a safe place that one can call home being an essential need for a human, many people with mental health issues find it difficult to find housing. Moreover, not having stable shelter can worsen one’s mental health. This forms a dangerous cycle where people who struggle with mental health cannot find housing, and unstable shelter exacerbates mental health issues.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that not being able to find affordable housing is a major factor of poor mental health. Housing insecurity can cause a lot of stress and anxiety due to the constant fear of needing to relocate or not having shelter at all. It is not just a feeling – by 2022, about 80% of homeless people had reported enduring significant traumatic experiences that left them with lasting effects, such as PTSD or other mental illnesses (“Homelessness Resources: Trauma", 2022).

Unfortunately, the challenges go both ways. Having a mental illness can also make it harder to find and keep a place to live. Landlords treat people with mental health problems differently and refuse to rent to them, which creates an additional challenge to finding secure housing.

Additionally, many people with mental illnesses rely on fixed incomes that barely cover basic needs, let alone finding a decent place to live without help. While many people with mental illnesses get money from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), research shows that there are zero U.S. housing markets in which a person living solely on SSI can afford a safe apartment without rental assistance.

Having a stable and affordable place to live can help people recover from mental health problems. Studies show that programs that give people permanent housing without any requirements, like Housing First, can lead to better mental health for people who experience homelessness.

A stable home can allow people to focus on things like managing their mental health, finding a job, and rebuilding their life. Housing programs can also collaborate with important healthcare and community services, which can further aid them. While there are several housing programs that are effective, a lack of funding leads to it only reaching a fraction of people who need them.

Organizations like NAMI fight for more funding for things like housing vouchers and the national Housing Trust Fund. They believe that it is important to solve the root causes of unstable housing, like unemployment and poverty.

Mental health and housing stability are connected. By solving both of these problems, people can achieve both mental well-being and a stable place to live.

Works Cited

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