This week saw Cyrenians say goodbye to our Public Policy officer, Maddy. Maddy wrote a blog for us last month and as a parting gift, I invited her to put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) for Cyrenians one last time to write a blog on the subject of Mental Health and Housing.
There is an old saying: “the sky’s the limit, if you have a roof over your head”. There is much truth in this statement. A stable, safe and comfortable home is the foundation for the essentials of a good quality of life. This includes health, and especially mental health.
Much like a home, mental health and wellbeing is something many of us have the privilege of taking for granted, but is in fact incredibly fragile. It is no surprise that many people who are homeless or vulnerably housed struggle with mental health problems; anxiety and depression most common among them. The stress of not knowing where you are going to sleep tonight, the social isolation of being moved away from your community, the stigmatisation of poverty, and an inability to see a way out as you get pushed from pillar to post trying to do the best for you and your family; all these things take their toll.
Whilst Cyrenians might not be a mental health charity, everything we do improves the mental health and wellbeing of those with whom we journey. Our services give people the support they need during hard times to find their way back to a healthier and happier future.
The role public policy has in improving mental health is clear. Whether it’s as simple as making sure even the most marginalised groups have access to mental health services when they need it, or in preventing a spiral into homelessness through adequate social security; policy should be geared at creating lives worth living. With the Scottish Parliament launching an inquiry into homelessness this month, and the recent publication of Scotland’s mental health strategy, we must progress the idea that the issues of homelessness are intersectional.
If policy is successful in recognising this, and services like ours are supported, we can look forward to a day when everyone can look to the skies.
9 May 2017