The Productivity Commission has handed down their final inquiry report on mental health to the Australian Government on 30 June 2020, with the inquiry findings publicly released this week.
The report examined the key influences on people’s mental health, as well as the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in the community. It highlighted the enormous social and economic cost of inadequate housing and support services for those experiencing mental illness and the need for a whole of government and community response.
It is estimated that homelessness services provided as a result of a person’s mental ill-health was approximately $174 million in 2018-19.
Furthermore, approximately $811 million of social housing net recurrent expenditure was estimated to be related to mental health costs in 2018-19.
In addition to this, the report makes recommendations to the Australian, State and Territory Governments, to improve the mental health of people who have experience of mental illness.
Housing and Mental Health
The report makes the connection between suitable and secure housing and good mental health. Suitable housing can be a first step in long-term recovery for people with mental illness, as well as an enabler for the delivery of other services and supports.
The report shows how mental illness can affect a person’s ability to sustain their existing housing, including their capacity to independently manage housing tasks, such as budgeting, paying rent or utility bills on time, or maintaining a property.
Not only can mental illness reduce a person’s ability to find and maintain housing, but this relationship can also run in the opposite direction. Unsafe housing, insecure tenure as well as affordability pressures can contribute to mental ill-health and inhibit recovery from mental illness.
In regard to housing and homelessness, the report makes three main recommendations:
- Housing services should increase their capacity to reduce the risk pf people with mental illness experiencing housing issues or losing their home.
- People with mental illness should be supported so that they are not discharged from hospitals, correctional facilities and institutional care into homelessness.
- Housing and homelessness services should have the capacity to support people with severe mental illness to find and maintain housing in the community.
Shelter WA will continue to work with our members, the broader sector and government to ensure that housing and homelessness services are supported to implement these recommendations so that people with mental health issues are at the center of any housing response, and have the housing and service supports required that enable them to thrive.
We encourage you to sign up to the Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) Prevent Support Heal Campaign here.
The full report and recommendations can be found here.