Talking mental health to the homeless

27 October 2017

Nightingale Hospital is leading a talk about stress and sleep issues at St Mungo’s this afternoon. St Mungo’s is a charity that supports homeless people throughout the UK.

It is an opportunity for us to offer our support and to talk about the number of homeless people which is increasing every year. Also, Their mental health is affected by poor living conditions.

The number of homeless people is increasing

According to a study by Shelter in 2016, more than 250,000 people in England are homeless or lack a permanent place to live.

Significantly, the number of people sleeping rough has doubled since 2010, while statistics show a 30% increase on the previous year. The government estimates that 4,134 people a night are sleeping rough on England’s streets.

London has the highest levels of homelessness in England, with an estimated 940 people sleeping on the streets in 2015. The most affected area in London is Westminster, with 265 counted.

Mental health and homelessness

Not only is the number of homeless people rising year on year, but the number of those suffering from mental health issues is also on the increase.

In 2015, 32% of homeless people reported a mental health problem, while rates of depression are over 10 times higher among rough sleepers according to the Mental Health Organization.

A report from 2014/2015 suggests that figures have tripled in the capital  with 711 people identified as needing significant mental health support .

Living conditions are important for mental health

Nightingale Hospital recognizes that homeless people suffer high levels of stress resulting from their housing situation. Feelings of isolation and desperation are not uncommon among homeless people.

Justin Stephenson, Clinical Psychologist at Nightingale Hospital, is putting the emphasis on the influence mental wellbeing has on our sleep:

‘We often view sleep as a purely biological process and miss out that our psychological wellbeing and greatly influence the quality of sleep we obtain.

By using sleep hygiene techniques and paying attention to ones thinking’s styles and beliefs we can challenge unhelpful patterns of behaviour, sleep included.’

St Mungo’s charity

Ending homelessness and rebuilding lives is at the heart of St Mungo’s ethos.

The charity started in 1969 when a group of people decided to do something to help the people they saw sleeping rough on the streets of London.

St Mungo’s has pioneered many of the innovative services that are now considered best practice and projects, including the first specialist project solely for people sleeping rough with a mental illness.

To find out more about St Mungo’s  or to find out how you can help, visit their website here.