World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day are marked on 10 October
The day is not for celebration but reflection. Poor physical and mental health can be both a cause and effect of a person’s situation leading to homelessness. Homelessness is a complex social problem with many interrelated causes and effects that impact on mental wellbeing.
Homelessness starts in our communities where many strive to create safe and nurturing ‘homes’ but for others the connotation of ‘home’ is a place that is unsafe and where harms occur.
With a trauma-informed approach to give the right support, harms and risks can be minimised and homelessness averted through prevention. Problems need to be identified with early interventions to the right support, at the right time and in the right place. This is commonly known to different professional bodies as a ‘no wrong door’ approach.
In the sectors of homelessness, housing, health and social care sectors it is largely recognised that housing and health are interrelated. A fervent belief is that quality, sustainable, suitable housing should be viewed as a basic human right and healthcare and support provisions freely accessible allowing a person to grow to be the best version of themselves.
Removing stigma and not placing blame on people for being homeless is vital. Changing negative language used, identifying societal and support systems in governance and failed safety nets is imperative.
This requires a reworking of the ‘whole system’ from governance, communities, societies, with everyone coming together and working collaboratively to a common goal.
Those with living and lived experience should be supported to drive needed change. Through exercising their voices, being actively listened to, positively heard, seen equally as valued citizens who know their role, rights and responsibilities, equipped and resourced to build and engage in meaningful relationships they can live fulfilling lives.