Links between housing problems and mental illness

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People in England are suffering from mental health problems due to the housing crisis in England, recent research suggests.  

Research for the charity Shelter suggests that housing shortages are causing mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, sleep problems, depression, panic attacks and even suicide.

Data were collected by polling company ComRes via online interviews of 3,509 adults across England. Around a third of those interviewed reported experiencing housing problems in the last five years, and mental health issues were common among this group.

Most frequently reported were stress (64%), anxiety (60%) and sleep problems (55%). Symptoms such as hair loss, nausea, exhaustion, dizzy spells and headaches were also cited.

Shelter's legal adviser, Liz Clare, said: ‘We hear from people at breaking point because they can no longer cope with their unstable, unliveable or unaffordable housing.

‘From families in fear of falling further behind on the rent to people dealing with the misery of raising young children in a tiny, mouldy, freezing flat, people can feel completely overwhelmed.’

Government figures released in March show that the rise in the number of households evicted from a privately rented home has accounted for 78% of the rise in homelessness since 2011.

Responding to these figures, interim chief executive of Shelter, Graeme Brown, said: ‘The rise in homelessness lays bare the devastating impact that expensive and unstable private renting is having on people’s lives.

‘What's worse is that behind these shocking statistics, we know there are thousands more renters living in constant fear that just one slip up - like a cut in hours or sudden rent rise – could leave them homeless.’