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One in five suffering severe mental health issues due to housing problems

One in five adults have suffered from mental health problems due to pressures from housing over the last five years, new research released by Shelter has revealed.

The charity’s findings found that 21% of adults had suffered from issues like long-term stress, anxiety and depression due to some kind of housing problem in the last five years, with some of the worst sufferers reporting feeling suicidal because of issues with their home.

On top of that, one in six respondents said that housing pressures had affected their physical health and triggered symptoms like nausea, hair loss, exhaustion and headaches.

Shelter argued that the report is further proof of the link between the two areas, as 69% of people who had experienced serious housing issues – including struggling to pay rent or being threatened with eviction – have also suffered from poor mental health.

Researchers surveyed 3,509 English adults between 17 and 23 February and also conducted 20 in-depth phone interviews with GPs in urban centres of England to draw together this conclusion.

Shelter legal adviser Liz Clare said that the charity heard from people “at breaking point” every day who said they were not able to cope with unstable, unliveable or unaffordable housing.

“From families in fear of falling further behind on the rent to people dealing with the misery of raising young children in a tiny, mouldy, freezing flat – people can feel completely overwhelmed,” Clare explained.

“But getting advice and support for housing problems early can ease the pressure and stop things spiralling out of control.”

She urged people struggling with housing to contact Shelter for help on its website or attend a face-to-face service that the charity runs across the country.

Dr Andrew Carr, a GP from London who took part in the study, also stressed that he regularly sees people struggling with acute anxiety or stress because they face the threat of losing their home.

“I always encourage patients to seek advice on housing problems as soon as possible, and I have seen first-hand the benefits of this on their mental wellbeing,” said Dr Carr.

The research follows the government bringing in new measures to crack down on rogue landlords ripping off tenants by bringing in fines of up to £30,000 for people found guilty of severe malpractice in renting property.

PSE contacted the DCLG for comment, but at the time of publication we had not received a response.

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