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Project LIGHT: Mental Health and Homelessness

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Last week’s theme for the resource team was mental health and the impact this has had on homeless people. The resource team has split into two smaller teams, both creating an educational resource surrounding the theme. These resources have been sent to local charities in Leicester.

Team 1

Team 1 was lead by Lauren this week alongside Shayna, Arran and Christina. We decided to make a poster on charities and how they have approached the issue of mental health in the homeless community. We originally decided to have Shayna research various phone numbers and contact details homeless people could use if they were struggling with mental health and Lauren and Arran researching 2 charities approach to the issue alongside their contact details. Christina would then make the information into an informative and accessible poster. However, we realised that there was not sufficient space without the poster being overcrowded to include all of this and as such made the focus of the poster Shelter and the Y Projects Approach to mental health in the homeless community.

What we learnt?

This week we split up tasks so that each member of our group had their own individual task to undertake before bringing all the material collected. Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic and the various levels of lockdown we’ve been under, we learned how impacted our mental health can be and the importance of knowing where to seek help if needed. Thus, we chose to do a poster outlining the mental health resources available in Leicester.

Throughout our research we quickly realised that there are many different organisations and helplines available to help in all areas from stress, depression, anxiety, and anywhere in between. Having quickly discovered that not all the contacts and details pertaining to all these organisations could fit cohesively on a poster, we chose to stick with two, The Y Support Project and SHELTER. While conducting our research it was nice to see that there was a program in which individuals may attend in person, even during the pandemic, instead of being required to contact via email or telephone.

Overall, we learned a lot about how important it is to have somewhere to turn when you feel that your mental health may be deteriorating and were pleased to so easily find all the resources, we needed to create a poster shining light on the great work of our chosen charities.

What we enjoyed?

The most enjoyable part of creating the mental health resource was researching the different charities that provide mental health resources. It was nice to see that rough sleepers are not completely alone in dealing with their mental struggles. For example, The Y Support Project has a registered GP as well as a mental health

specialist. It was a nice feeling knowing that by helping to raise awareness of these resources that they otherwise would not know that they had available they can then go and tackle their troubles and hopefully take some of the stress they already have off their shoulders. While there were not necessarily many charities that specialised in mental health, it was interesting and positive to see that the ones who do have excellent facilities and ways to help.

Challenges we faced?

Our team faced several challenges with this week’s project. The first challenge we faced related to limiting our scope of research. Because there is such a breadth of information relating to homeless people and mental health, we had to be careful to limit the reach of our research to ensure our graphic was aesthetically pleasing and easily comprehensible.

While we did our best with this, we did end up having to cut out some of the information we had gathered. Even though it was important, we decided it would be best to save the research relating to specific contact numbers for a different project, because a crowded graphic is not ideal. Although it is always frustrating to not be able to fit everything in, it gives us a launching pad for another project later in the year!

Team 2

The team was led by Megan, with the help of Michael, Stephanie and Diego. We created three infographics about mental health in the homeless community and the resources available to support those suffering from its effects.

How does mental health affect the homeless community?

Individuals who are homeless are more likely to experience feelings of isolation, distress, loss of self-esteem, behavioural problems, and drug dependency which prevents them from living a productive and satisfying life.

Aftercare services for those suffering from mental health:

Most accommodation for people with mental health needs is provided under section 18 of the Care Act 2014. However, where a person 'ceases to be detained' under the Mental Health Act 1983, they are eligible for aftercare services, including housing. In this case the assessment is made under section 47 of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990.

Detention under the Mental Health Act is for a variety of reasons. Individuals can be admitted and detained under section 2 for assessment, section 3 for treatment, section 37, 45A and 47 for treatment following criminal proceedings, and section 48 for treatment whilst on remand, or while detained under immigration law, or whilst a civil prisoner.

When a person who has been detained under sections 3, 37, 45A or 47 of the Mental Health Act ceases to be detained, the former patient must be provided with aftercare services under section 117 of the Act. The duty will be owed regardless of the financial resources available to the person who was detained. The duty continues until both the health and social services authorities are satisfied that the person no longer needs those services. The duty does not apply to those admitted and detained for assessment under section 2 of the Act.

Types of aftercare services include specialised accommodation, advice, guidance, counselling, and recreational activities. Ordinary accommodation cannot be provided under section 117. Accommodation can only be provided where it meets a need related to the person's mental ill health, and reduces the risk of the person's condition deteriorating.

The person has the right to express a preference for particular accommodation. Social services must meet this preference provided it is of the same type that social services has decided to arrange, suitable for the adult's needs, available, and affordable, using a 'top-up' if necessary.

Services provided under section 117, including accommodation, cannot be charged for. Where the aftercare service is accommodation, if the person's preferred

accommodation would cost more than social services would normally pay, a 'top-up' can be made in certain circumstances.

What can you do to help a homeless person?

Members of the public are able to send alerts through StreetLink’s mobile application or website to help connect vulnerable individuals to outreach services. The specific location for the rough sleeping site will be pinpointed which allows local authorities to locate the individual on the streets and provide them with support.

There are many innovative ways in which we, as a community, can help prevent homelessness and promote their mental well-being through donations, fundraising, volunteering, alerting local authorities of their whereabouts, or becoming a Homeless Link member to improve homeless services and promote policy change.

What we learnt

We learnt that when those who have been detained under sections 3, 37, 45A or 47 of the Mental Health Act cease to be detained, the former patient must be provided with aftercare services under section 117 of the Act. Aftercare services include specialised accommodation, advice, guidance, counselling, and recreational activities. Accommodation can only be provided where it meets a need related to the person's mental ill health, and reduces the risk of the person's condition deteriorating.

We learnt about the strong effects of mental health on the homeless community, and how the 2 are closely related - for example, with 80% of homeless people reporting in 2014 that they suffer from mental health issues

We also gained an appreciation for how vicious the mental health cycle can be on vulnerable individuals facing rough sleeping. For example, stress from being evicted can lead to homelessness, and then the stress of being homeless can make it difficult to find accommodation

What we enjoyed

We enjoyed learning about the resources and protection available to those suffering from mental health issues under the law, especially those pertaining to specialised accommodation and social services.

We enjoyed learning about how we can contribute to the homeless community, and the different steps that can be taken to help rough sleepers off the streets.

It was fun to learn about different charities again, such as Action Homeless and The Bridge and how they help the homeless community such as providing accommodation and support.

It was intriguing to learn about some of the legislation regarding the rights to different services and accommodation that homeless individuals are entitled to

Challenges we faced

Mental health in the homeless community is a broad topic, and there are a wide variety of resources available pertaining to this topic. At first, we struggled with compiling all the different information related to relevant legislation and local charities onto one infographic. Our team leader, Megan, suggested that we create 3 separate infographics in order to promote several charities within the community as well as include informative content for the general public.

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