New NHS Confederation briefing on homelessness and mental health


This new briefing from the NHS Confederation sets out the policy context around tackling homelessness and addressing the mental health needs of homeless people.

It also examines what considerations need to be made when planning, designing and delivering mental health services for homeless people and highlights examples of good practice.

Around 70% of people accessing homelessness services have a mental health problem. Homelessness charity St Mungo’s estimate that 64% of their clients have drug and/or alcohol problems.

Although the causes of homelessness are complex, mental ill health is a major contributing factor. Becoming homeless can worsen existing conditions or cause a mental health problem to occur.

Key points from the briefing include:

  • There is a strong link between homelessness and poor mental health, with high rates of mental health problems and substance misuse among the homeless population
  • The Government’s mental health strategy identifies addressing the mental health needs of homeless people as a priority for action
  • Access to mental health services for homeless people can be improved through improving staff awareness and delivering services differently, including use of non-clinical settings, plus through effective joint working with partner agencies.


Mental health and homelessness: planning and delivering mental health services for homeless people (PDF). NHS Confederation, 18 April 2012.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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