Wellbeing begins at home

Reflections for Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Throughout Caring in Bristol’s projects, our workers think about mental health every day; not just during Mental Health Awareness Week (13th to 19th May, 2024). We’ve seen first-hand the devastation caused by homelessness, and the impact it has on mental health.

The burden of homelessness and insecure housing situations is a terrible weight to bear. Every week we meet people who are facing a period of uncertainty in a situation unfolding around them. This may be the threat of losing their current home, or wondering where the next move will be out of temporary accommodation. It’s been described as an energy-draining place to be in, with little left to find enjoyment in life. We know it can be different.

Restoring hope

If someone is already facing a challenge with their mental health, precarious housing situations can magnify the symptoms. People who would ordinarily describe themselves as buoyant can find themselves being crushed by the pressure of a homelessness crisis. It’s difficult to imagine what this feels like until it happens to you. In complex housing systems, with limited options, it can feel hopeless. We don’t want anyone to feel like this, and our projects are there to restore the hope needed to find a way through with support, advice, and resources.

This is why a home is so central to our mental wellbeing, and why any threat to our home is a threat to our mental health. More good quality social homes, and more homes that are truly affordable, would make a massive difference to people in Bristol, and beyond. Removing uncertainty and enabling people to settle into the future they want can provide the mental ease and clarity that would make for a happier Bristol.

The power of prevention

In the meantime, we’re working hard to prevent homelessness at the earliest possible stage – before it becomes unmanageable and traumatic. Our workers are able to spot the early signs of a potential crisis; they help people to take the steps needed to protect their home and their wellbeing. With effective resources, homelessness is not inevitable. Getting ourselves out of the fatalistic thinking that often surrounds homelessness releases energy and hope to see the solutions. It is widely accepted that we need to do more work to prevent mental health difficulties from occurring, preventing homelessness, and ensuring people have stable and secure homes go hand in hand with this.

Building for the future

When the worst happens, it can feel like a disaster. Our youth practitioners work with young people who have experienced a homelessness crisis. They know that when a young person finds a home, this is the start of a new journey, and not the end of one. They are there to support them in building up their strength, skills, and confidence to live the life they want to, helping to restore what homelessness has taken away.

At Caring in Bristol we know that the foundations of a secure and affordable home are also the foundations of our wellbeing. That’s just one of the reasons that we care so much about what we do. We want everyone to have a home and to be free from the threat of homelessness.

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