“Depression is the third leading cause of illness and disabilities amongst adolescents. Violence, poverty, humiliation and feeling devalued can increase the risk of developing mental health problems.” The World Health Organisation 2017.
Homelessness and mental health often go hand in hand. Poor mental health can create the circumstances which can cause a person to become homeless in the first place. Yet poor housing or homelessness can also increase the chances of developing a mental health problem, or exacerbate an existing condition. In turn, this can make it even harder for that person to recover – to develop good mental health, to secure stable housing, to find and maintain a job, to stay physically healthy and to maintain relationships.
It is widely recognised that single homeless people are much more likely to have mental health problems compared to the general population. In 2015, 32% of single homeless people reported a mental health problem, and depression rates, for example, are over 10 times higher in the homeless population. Unfortunately, other psychological issues such as complex trauma, substance misuse and social exclusion are also common. Mental Health Foundation Dec 2015
A survey of 96 of the 125 early intervention in psychosis services found that 53 per cent reported a decrease in the quality of their services in the past year (Rethink Mental Illness 2014), and despite Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ relative success in providing access to psychological interventions in primary care, a substantial proportion of people with severe mental health problems have had to wait for more than a year to access treatment and services are failing to provide sufficient access to the full breadth of evidence-based therapies recommended by NICE (Royal College of Psychiatrists 2014a). In 2015, 28 per cent of people responding to the community mental health team survey rated their experience of community mental health care on a scale of 0 to 10 as 5 or lower (Care Quality Commission 2015a).
Research studies have reported that the longer people go without having treatment, the harder it is to start the process of recovery. When an individual receives early intervention their prospects are greatly improved but a delay of longer than six months, significantly reduces their chances of a successful outcome.
Counselling is a vital service offering a non-judgemental, empathic, consistent and positive support in a secure and familiar environment. It gives the young people a place to explore underlying issues specific to the young person, often as already mentioned, and other aspects of their life like family relationships, self-worth, self-harm, eating disorders, unemployment, bereavement, sexual abuse and domestic violence.
“Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life.” Carl Rogers
Developing the SHYPP Counselling service in house enables young people to develop the capability and resilience to deal with life’s ups and downs in a meaningful and productive way by accessing counselling at the most appropriate time in their support, rather than waiting to reach crisis.
The young people are encouraged to access counselling services outside of the SHYPP provision. Unfortunately, as already highlighted, there is a six month waiting list or more and young people say they are reluctant to discuss their mental health with a GP.
“When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good. . . . When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements which seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions which seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.” Carl Rogers
Counselling gives that first step of opportunity to the young people at Shypp to find steps of empowerment of seeing and reaching their potential. Once the most troubling and debilitating aspects of life have been cleared additional projects can then dovetail into this.
Written by Linda Bramble, Counselling Coordinator, contributions from Helen Parker, Locality Manager