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Bad housing has left its mark on our mental health for years to come

Australia brings a huge and growing burden of mental health. At the same time, in Australia, the unfavorable housing situation is growing. Our latest research shows that trends are linked. A systematic review of evidence shows that the housing disadvantage is detrimental to mental health, and the consequences of you remain well after your home situation has improved. For example, living in an overcrowded house from birth to early childhood is associated with depression in the middle of life.

How Many People Are Affected? One in five Australians experience mental disorder every year, and nearly half of them experience some form of mental illness during their lives. Mental health accounts for more than $ 9 billion in public and private spending in Australia, and 4.2 million Australians have received recipes related to mental health in 201


As far as homes are concerned, up to 1.1 million Australians live in homes that are in very poor condition.

Read more:
Dangerous for human health: this is a housing problem much larger than a few high-rise apartment blocks

Making the Connection between Housing and Mental Health

In recent years, several high-quality Australian and international studies have sought to understand the relationship between housing disadvantage and mental health. A small part of this evidence base attempts to quantify the effect of housing on mental health for an extended period of time. Taking together the results of such longitudinal studies, we conducted a systematic review to find out whether the unfavorable situation in the homes could lead to worse mental health down the road. housing, subjective perception of inadequate housing, displacement or poor physical accommodation conditions. Our systematic review of international evidence shows that regardless of how unfavorable housing conditions are considered, there is a link with worse mental health in the future.

In the studies we were examining, the sample sizes ranged from 205 to 16,234 people. The follow-up period varies from one year to 34 years in all stages of life – birth to adulthood and old age. Despite the deliberate exclusion of studies on the two extremes of homelessness and severe mental illness, we found that each study confirmed an association between at least one unfavorable housing and poor mental health marker. Mental health outcomes include higher chances for depression, stress and anxiety. The studies included in the review found these results in all age groups from the two very short follow-up periods of about two years to relatively long periods of decades.

These findings make sense. The apartment is a central part of our lives. For most of us, this is our biggest expense. It forms our experience; it is both a financial asset and a home.

This means that insecure housing can be very destabilizing for families and individuals.

Read more:
The uncertainty of private tenants – how do they manage it?

Our review highlights a wide variety of mechanisms through which homes affect the effects of mental health (such as anxiety and depression) at different stages of life. For example, physical housing problems, such as damp or cold, affect mental health in various ways related to financial uncertainty associated with housing. But there is evidence that physical housing and accessibility issues can work together to enhance the effects on mental health.

Housing Issues Are Growing

The Australian housing system is changing and becoming less secure. More and more Australians hired privately. Many young people will never have their own homes.

At the same time, our public housing sector can only provide a safety net for the most vulnerable people with high and complex needs. Waiting lists are long. We do not see a significant commitment from the government to reduce this shortage of social housing.

In addition, the quality of our homes is deteriorating throughout the housing stock. The Australian Unhealthy Dwelling Index is a composite measure of home accessibility, security, quality, location and accessibility. Since 2000, the index shows an increase in the unfavorable housing situation in our housing stock, including a significant increase for private low-income tenants.

Adapted from the Australian Geography of the Unhealthy Home

Due to the increasing inaccessibility of housing, many of us simply can not handle basic maintenance and repairs. Bandwidth solutions mean that some of us live with cold and damp homes, homes that run out when it rains, homes that can not accommodate growing families, or homes that can not support our needs while our mobility is decreasing . At the extreme end, 116,427 of us were homeless on the counting night.

Read more:
A cool house? Plush rooms? Here's how to improve access for low-income tenants to decent housing

According to current calculations, one out of every nine households has inaccessible homes. Up to 1.1 million Australians have homes that are in very bad condition (or even abandoned).

Given the scale of the housing disadvantage, its role in poor mental health should apply to all of us. He suggests that a large number of Australians will suffer from mental health problems associated with, or worsened by, inadequate housing.

Changes in literacy and quality in the housing sector were widely discussed. We should discuss and even prioritize the effects of the mental health of housing.

Read more:
Housing: hidden health intervention

Invest in mental health housing

The latest research funding initiative for the Australian Government, the Medical Research Fund for Medical Research, has a "Million Mental Health Study Mission". It aims to support research on the causes of mental illness and the best strategies for early intervention, prevention and treatment. Our systematic review shows that it is vital that both research and public investment aimed at improving mental health take account of the accessibility, quality and condition of people's homes.

The apartment is at the center of our lives. When it is accessible, secure and in good condition it provides the basis for our full participation in society.

If we found a risk-free medicine to protect people's mental health, we would like it to be widely available. Given the form that housing policies could take, what will happen if we think of decent housing as a form of mass treatment? Protective safety net? Would not there be something in which to invest and prescribe you?

Read more:
Is this a residential system a concern? This is the question of the Australians and their new government

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