A recently released paper by the Center for Addition and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD), along with other partners, has provided a national scan on the current housing and community support needs of persons with mental health issues, highlighting examples of successful new housing models.
The paper, funded by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, offers a picture of housing needs that are unique to persons with mental health issues. It indicates that well over 500,000 people with mental illness are inadequately housed in Canada, and more than 100,000 are homeless. The report indicates that many persons with mental health issues may live in private or social housing rentals, however since 2009 there is also a growing need for supported or supportive housing (housing types and definitions are explained in the paper) which far outstrips the availability of units across Canada.
The paper also describes the reasons for housing vulnerability among those with mental health issues, identifies those who are most vulnerable, and explains the connection between inadequate housing and health status.
Insufficient income is often linked to inadequate housing and poor health. For example, 23 per cent of participants in a health and housing study reported having unmet mental health care needs and over 55 per cent had visited emergency rooms in the last year.
Authors state that Canada’s reaction to the housing crisis has been reactive rather than proactive, and outlines the consequences of continued inaction. In order for this to change, the authors urge funders, policy makers and service providers to create a system of coordinated housing and supports that cross heath and social services.
In addition, the report also profiles a number of initiatives that government can use as examples to follow, and ends with recommendations to the Mental Health Commission of Canada to raise the action on a range of housing supports for persons with mental health issues.
See, “Turning the Key,” available atwww.mentalhealthcommission.ca.