Mental health is a shared journey

It’s Mental Health awareness week. Mental Health and homelessness are tightly connected and about three quarters of the people we work with need support for their mental health.  

Leon Eckford, our Repairs and Voids Manager and member of our Lived Experience Network, shares his thoughts. 

At St Mungo’s, we are dedicated to ending homelessness, recognising that lacking a stable home is a significant factor in mental health challenges. My experience as an Outreach Manager in Tower Hamlets highlighted how exposure to trauma and violence perpetuates the struggle for many people. Rough sleepers face constant risks, from physical violence to sexual assault, exacerbating mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. The struggle for basic needs like food and shelter deepens feelings of hopelessness and despair, further deteriorating mental wellbeing. Moreover, the physical toll of homelessness compounds these challenges, leading to a complex interplay between mental and physical health.  

Mental Health Awareness Week serves as a global platform to educate, destigmatize, and advocate for better resources and support systems. Through seminars, workshops, and community events, the aim is to foster understanding and provide resources for those affected. Breaking down societal barriers and encouraging conversations around mental health is vital for overall wellbeing.  

Several factors contribute to the rise in mental health issues. Improved societal attitudes lead more individuals to seek help, though reliance on medication as a quick-fix solution poses its own challenges. Reflecting on past societal norms, particularly regarding male mental health, underscores the progress made but also the work left to do in combating stigma.  

Modern life introduces various stressors, from financial pressures to social media-induced comparisons, exacerbated by the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis. Technology, while beneficial, also contributes to feelings of isolation. Personal experiences, such as growing up in a single-parent household, highlight the impact of family structure on mental wellbeing. While genetics and biology play a role, environmental factors significantly influence mental health outcomes.  

Despite these challenges, there are simple strategies to manage mental health and emotional wellbeing. Recognising that it’s a journey, seeking support, and finding personalised coping mechanisms are crucial steps. This year’s campaign mantra, #momentsformovement, emphasizes the importance of staying active and connected.  

Maintaining supportive relationships and seeking professional help when needed are vital for navigating mental health challenges. In closing, let’s prioritise peace, love, and light, remembering that mental health is a shared journey.  

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