Bursting Bubbles of Interiority: Exploring space in experiences of distress and rough sleeping for newly homeless people

McGrath, Laura; Weaver, Tassie; Reavey, Paula and Brown, Steven D. (2018). Bursting Bubbles of Interiority: Exploring space in experiences of distress and rough sleeping for newly homeless people. In: McGrath, Laura and Reavey, Paula eds. The Handbook of Mental Health and Space: Community and Clinical Applications. London: Routledge, pp. 135–148.

URL: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/978131721660...

Abstract

Homelessness is an increasing problem in the UK, which intersects in multiple ways with experiences of mental distress. Within the term ‘homeless’ are contained people in a variety of living situations, including those living in temporary accommodation (hostels, couch surfing, B&Bs) as well those sleeping rough. The latter category is the least common, but on the rise. Between 2010 and 2017, rough sleeping more than doubled in England and Wales, with just under a quarter of total rough sleepers concentrated in London (MHCLG, 2018). Loopstra et al. (2016) argue that the combination of recession and austerity has pushed homelessness upwards, with cuts in welfare spending on social care, housing services and income support for older people most clearly associated with this rise. Of new rough sleepers, around 70 per cent have a mental health diagnosis (NHS Confederation, 2012). This is not just a UK phenomenon; a 2009 population based study in the United States similarly found mental health diagnoses to be three to four times more prevalent in the homeless population (Shelton, Taylor, Bonner, & van den Bree, 2009). This relationship is multifaceted. Both mental health problems and homelessness are argued to be inter-related outcomes of lives characterised by adversity, trauma and abuse (Kim, Ford, Howard, & Bradford, 2010). The relationship is also bidirectional; a distress and mental health crisis can lead to people leaving their homes, while homelessness, with its accompanying insecurity and potential for trauma, can also precipitate, deepen or trigger further mental health problems.

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