Home, community, access to support and social connection are fundamentals for mental health recovery. In many ways these are all intertwined however if we just start with a safe and secure home, it is easier to get everything else to fall into place.

Yet we know that there are not enough housing options for people with lived experience of mental ill health – there is a shortage of affordable housing and some people need some extra support to access and maintain a tenancy in their recovery or when they are unwell.

Research by Mind and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) found many people with lived experience of mental ill-health do not have access to safe, secure, appropriate and affordable housing. They also found that: “The housing, homelessness and mental health policy systems are crisis-driven and are not well integrated, which means that many people struggle to access the supports they need when they need them.”

But we can mitigate homelessness and housing stress for people in recovery not just by making sure they have the right roof over their head but by making sure there is social support, access to services for good general and mental health. Not only does this reduce housing instability but may also shorten the length of time a person experiences mental ill-health.

In their recommendations they state in order to assist people out of a cycle of homelessness or housing distress we need policies that enable people to get well and stay well. You can read the full report here

On the back of this research, Mental Health Australia partnered with Mind and AHURI to develop priorities for those policies in consultation with people with lived experience and other key housing experts. The policy priorities were set as;

1: Provide genuine choice and control in housing by increasing the availability of a diversity of safe, secure, appropriate and affordable housing for people with lived experience of mental ill health and housing insecurity. 

2: Increase support to sustain the tenancies of people with lived experience of mental ill health who are able to live independently.

3: Strengthen early intervention and prevention. 

The policy priorities identified formed the basis of a position statement, which was further developed through a Mental Health Australia Members Policy Hub attended by over 30 people representing 21 organisations. You can read the full position statement here.

While mental ill-health is not the sole cause of homelessness, an unsafe and insecure home does impede recovery.