William Eichler 17 February 2020

Majority of homeless women suffer mental health issues

A new study has revealed that the vast majority of women who are homeless suffer from physical or mental health issues.

The research, conducted by the homelessness charity Groundswell and funded by the Greater London Authority, found that 74% of women who are homeless have a physical health issue and 64% were experiencing mental health issues.

The most commonly diagnosed physical health issues were joints, bones and muscles (40%), blood conditions (26%), problems with feet (21%) and stomach issues (19%).

The conditions which showed the biggest increase upon homelessness were issues with joints, bones and muscles, blood conditions, heart conditions and problems with feet.

The study, which involved 104 participants, also found that the three main reasons participants cited for becoming homeless included relationship breakdown and/or family breakdown, physical health issues and domestic violence.

However, 59% either agreed or strongly agreed that their health had contributed to them becoming homeless.

The participants in the research frequently talked about how their living situation affected their health and exacerbated their existing health issues, and often emphasised how the stress of their living situation exacerbated their physical health problems.

The most commonly diagnosed mental health issues included depression (45%), anxiety/phobia (29%) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (18%).

Some mental health issues existed before homelessness. However, many developed new issues because of their housing situation.

Of those who had required an ambulance, 27% needed one because of self-harm and/or attempted suicide. Nearly a quarter (24%) felt an addiction affected their day-to-day life, and homelessness was often a trigger for addiction.

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