More than shelter


Supported accommodation and mental health

Dr Jed Boardman 

3rd June 2016

Having somewhere to live in which we feel secure is essential to our physical and mental health. More than shelter reviews evidence about supported housing services for people with mental health problems in England. 

It is widely accepted that good housing is central to our health and wellbeing. Factors associated with poor mental health include poor quality housing (e.g. insufficient daylight), overcrowding, quality of neighbourhood, and control over housing. Moreover, the report highlights that type of housing is linked to mental health; high-rise housing is associated with poorer adult mental health. 

People experiencing mental health problems are also more likely than average to experience difficulties with accommodation, e.g. rent or mortgage difficulties, living in deprived neighbourhoods and experiencing isolation.

The report finds that there is very limited evidence about what kinds of support are most effective for people with mental health problems, but that most people prefer help in their own homes to being in sheltered or transitional accommodation.

Small-scale studies indicate that housing support can reduce the costs of hospital stays for people who would otherwise require inpatient care. The highest quality evidence points to the 'Housing First' approach for people who are homeless and have multiple needs including mental ill-health. The approach helps people to secure independent tenancies first, rather than using temporary accommodation.

More than shelter also offers recommendations for mental health and housing policy, including:

  • Recognising housing as a health intervention by mental health services;
  • Providing a wide range of support to meet the different needs of people with mental health problems;
  • Locating people who require support in safe and local neighbourhoods



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