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Mental health, housing and homelessness

Recent research shows more than 25 per cent of Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients with a mental health issue reported housing crisis as the main reason for seeking assistance.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has recently updated its Mental Health Services in Australia (MHSA) website with the new research.

The site also includes information from the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC) describing clients who receive services from specialist homelessness agencies and the assistance they receive, including clients with a current mental health issue.

The report talks about the need for appropriate accommodation and support as critical for individuals in both prevention and response.

The impact of unaddressed homelessness and insecure housing among people with a severe mental illness has significant social and economic dimensions broader than health.

Key points from the report include:

  • About half of SHS clients (47.6%) with a current mental health issue reported an episode of homelessness in the 12 months before presenting to an agency, compared with one third (32.6%) of those clients without a current mental health issue
  • For clients with a current mental health issue, 18–24 year olds had the highest rate of SHS agency use followed by 15–17 year olds (635.0 and 586.3 per 100,000 population respectively) in 2015–16
  • Rates of SHS agency use were higher for females with a current mental health issue than males with a current mental health issue
  • The rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander SHS clients with a current mental health issue was more than 6 times that of non-Indigenous Australians
  • More than 1 in 4 SHS clients with a mental health issue reported housing crisis as the main reason for seeking assistance, followed by domestic and family violence inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions and financial difficulties. In contrast, domestic and family violence, housing crisis and financial difficulties were the top three main reasons for seeking assistance for SHS clients without a current mental health issue.

To find out more go to: https://mhsa.aihw.gov.au).   

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