Mental health and street homelessness 

St Mungo's opens doors for homeless people, providing emergency accommodation, support towards recovery and helping to prevent rough sleeping.

Each year we help more than 10,000 people and our hostels, care homes, and housing projects provide safe and supportive housing to more than 1,500 people each night. In 2009, our 40th anniversary year, we initiated a Call for Evidence about the links between mental health and street homelessness.

Between April and June we received more than 90 contributions from organisations and individuals. The report also included specially commissioned evidence from homeless people themselves - St Mungo's Happiness Matters peer research

The final report 'Down and Out?' highlights how a lack of integrated health services can lead people with mental health problems into sleeping on the streets. It also shows how difficult it can be for a rough sleeper to have mental illness properly treated as part of their recovery.

Down and Out? - Full Report

Down and Out? - Executive Summary

The statistics are stark. New figures on 300 recent rough sleepers now currently living within St Mungo's hostels - where problems can be recognised by experienced and specialist workers - reveal that 69% have a mental health need while 61% have both a mental health need and a substance use issue.

What next? Our four main recommendations are:

  • the Government needs to act decisively to ensure nobody with a mental illness sleeps rough
  • the Department of Health needs to show leadership and recognition of the extent to which its service problems lead to, and fail to help people away from, rough sleeping
  • commissioners should routinely and explicitly address how to include excluded groups such as rough sleepers
    specialist commissioning is also required
  • As the Government aims to achieve its target of reducing rough sleeping to zero by 2012, we are pushing to make rough sleeping a public health issue.
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