“That’s just what I need. More pills and someone to talk to about why I feel crazy. You would too if you slept in a tiny room next to someone screaming all night.”
Significant numbers of people talked of being prescribed drugs for depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders, when in reality, their emotional distress was related to their homelessness, isolation and abuse from people around them.
Many people were referred to mental health services and community psychiatric teams due to behaviour that was later identified as post-traumatic stress. Suicidal thoughts or attempts were often a result of events in the past or their circumstances – for example, living in unsuitable housing where they were intimidated or didn’t feel safe.
Many people became defined by their ‘mental health’ diagnosis. This acted as a barrier to moving from their homeless situation and led them to be institutionalised into the system.
We took action
In many situations, we changed the focus of our conversations to ask ‘what happened to you?’ not ‘what’s wrong with you?’. We aim to identify whether mental health issues and emotional distress are the reasons why people are homeless or if they are a symptom of their situation. This allows support to be tailored to the individual and informs whether solutions are medical or whether alternative options are more appropriate.
The Personal Transitions Service provides a range of options, choices and information to promote healthy, mental and emotional wellbeing