Housing Affects Mental Health

January 16, 2018

 

The daily lives of people experiencing homelessness are stressful, dangerous, traumatic, and often take a toll on their mental health.

 

Access to adequate housing that meets a certain standard of living is a social determinant of mental health status. People can go without many things but going without a safe and comfortable space to live can be catastrophic for one's general well-being.

 

Homelessness itself can trigger a mental illness or worsen an existing condition, without even considering other factors such as poverty, personal conflicts, death of a loved one, serious medical condition, social isolation and other personal issues.

 

Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that up to 50% of people experiencing homelessness have mental illness. A Toronto study found that 66% of people experiencing homelessness experienced serious depression sometime in their lifetime, and 56% did so in the past year.

 

Homeless is often described as a process of repeated exposures of stressful circumstances and being immersed in unsafe or dangerous environments. These reoccurring and ongoing negative experiences can have devastating outcomes for those with depression thinking of suicide.

 

Not all individuals with depression will commit suicide, however 60% of those who died from suicide suffered from depression. Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in the country.

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