chapter  7
16 Pages

Mental health, homelessness and housing policies

Lack of a coordinated strategy to integrate provision for health needs with housing needs has made mental health services one of the most controversial areas of government community care policy. Deinstitutionalisation has no doubt produced a whole series of impacts on the well-being of people with mental health problems, not least homelessness. But the explanation of the latter is more complex than a one-way causal relationship, and demands closer scrutiny of public policy housing strategies, issues of service coordi­ nation and the performance of the ‘new’ community care. This chapter will deal with the particular relationships between mental health and homelessness, the effects of housing policies on hom e­ lessness, the series of connections between community care, the role of housing provision, and the needs of people with mental health difficulties. It will examine the impacts of mental health discharge procedures upon ‘public safety’ and the implications of the ensuing debate for the rights of mentally disturbed persons, evaluate the efficacy of user involvement and empowerment for mental health service users and the development of a users’ movement, and finally, review comparative issues and policies.