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World Mental Health Day

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The prevalence of serious mental illness (including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) is reported as being present in at least 25-30% of homeless people..

The most quoted source on the extent of mental health in the adult population in the UK suggests that the prevalence of common mental health problems is over twice as high and of psychosis 4-15 times as high amongst the homeless population compared to the general population.

This is worse among street homeless people, who may be 50-100 times more likely to have a psychotic disorder than the general population.

Serious mental illness is often accompanied by alcohol and/or substance misuse problems. Many studies suggest that around 10-20% of the homeless population would fulfil the criteria for dual diagnosis.

Homeless people, in particular those with mental illness, have higher mortality rates than the general population. They are up to nearly 5 times more likely to die than the equivalent age group of the general population.

Personality disorder is also common place. In a recent survey of homeless services in England, they estimated two thirds of their clients presented with characteristics consistent with personality disorder, many of whom were thought to be undiagnosed.

Overall research shows that as the stability of housing increases then rates of serious mental illness decreases.

Women experience some risk factors (such as physical and sexual abuse as a child) for both mental illness and homelessness to a greater extent than men. The rates of mental health problems – including deliberate self-harm (DSH) and suicidal ideation also seem to be higher in homeless women than in men.

Tent City has arrived in Leeds City Centre, a cluster of tents appeared outside Leeds Town Hall, each habitant of the tents a homeless person protesting against the council’s lack of available housing. Having met and spoken to some of these people, they paint a picture of fear, hunger, and destitution, yet the support they have for each other is remarkable. A number of the people who are part of the protest are all too familiar with both the mental health services and a life blighted by reliance on drugs.  The stories of people who find themselves in this situation are varied and complex and it would be wrong to summarise or generalise in an area as complex as it is diverse.

According to the World Health organisation if we don’t act urgently by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally.  Every 10th October is World Mental Health Day – a time to educate and raise awareness of mental illness and its major effects on people’s lives worldwide.

ABR Solicitors delivered a talk at the spinney hospital partnerships in care.  The talk highlighted issues relating to criminal law matters and mental health problems . The meeting was attended by staff from various backgrounds. The meeting was extremely positive and aimed to equip those attending with a wider knowledge of criminal procedure for those suffering with mental disorders. “A great success” and “engaging and informative” were just some of the comments made by those attending. The meeting was delivered by James McAulay and the mental health team pro bono as ABR Solicitors feel passionate about world mental health day and the rights of service users.

Tracey Hepworth Mental Health Caseworker ABR Solicitors

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