Homelessness and Mental Health

Poor mental health can be both a cause and consequence of  homelessness. There is a higher rate of mental health illness amongst the homeless population than the general population. The onset of mental illness can trigger or be part of a series of events that can lead to homelessness. The stress of experiencing homelessness can also amplify poor mental health; it can encourage anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness and substance use. In addition to this, for people who are homeless and experiencing a mental health condition, support for the illness might not be the priority.

As many as 80% of people experiencing homelessness are reported to have or have had mental health issues.

What do the Faculty Homeless and Inclusion Mental Health group do?

The Faculty Homeless and Inclusion Mental Health Subgroup includes clinicians, researchers, lecturers, trainees and students who are passionate about improving the mental health of people experiencing social exclusion.

Members take action to help homeless and excluded people prevent and deal with mental health issues.

We are building relationships with grassroots initiatives and charities, working with commissioners and policy makers, and raising awareness across the profession through regional, national and international speaking opportunities and sharing best practice.

How can I get involved?


How can I learn more?

The links below are great examples of useful resources for helping people experiencing homelessness and mental illness.

Do you work with people sleeping rough?

Mental Health Intervention With People Sleeping Rough

Many homeless patients seen by Pathway teams face mental health problems. Pathway supported the opening of the UK’s first homelessness service within an inpatient mental health unit; and our teams liaise with partners in mental health services, and include mental health professionals in the team.

However, many outreach workers face problems when supporting people who have mental health problems who are sleeping rough. This mental health and homelessness guidance is designed to address this.


Mental health guidance for outreach workers

Pathway worked with The Greater London Authority, Lambeth Council, South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Thames Reach to publish tools and guidance to help outreach workers supporting people sleeping rough.

The publication includes practical tools guiding workers through the use of the Mental Capacity Act and Mental Health Act.  It has been regularly updated to include statutory changes, the most recent update was published in autumn 2017.

The tools and guidance are for everyone who works with clients or patients on the streets.  The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health endorsed this work to help us all respond to the needs of vulnerable people on the street.

Download the guidance documents and forms

Download the guidance – Mental Health Service Interventions for People Sleeping Rough
Mental Capacity Act Screening Tool
Mental Health Act Screening Tool
Hospital Homelessness Mental Health Admission Plan

Appendix 1 – Autism Spectrum Disorders
Appendix 2 – Acquired Brain Injury
Appendix 3 – Psychosis