'Shameful' doubling of mental health issues among homeless since 2013

The proportion of homeless people who suffer from mental health conditions has more than doubled since 2013, figures show, in a rise described as “shameful” by Scottish Labour.

More than a quarter of homeless people in Scotland struggle with mental health problems, figures show.

Anas Sarwar’s party has demanded action from the Scottish Government after the total number of households in this situation almost doubled over seven years, going from 3,899 in 2013/14 to 7,397 in 2020/21

While last year’s total is down from the 8,404 households where someone with mental health problems was either made homeless or was threatened with homelessness recorded in 2019/20, the latest official Scottish Government data showed that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of homeless households contained someone with mental health problems, compared with 13 per cent in 2013/14.

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That percentage has been steadily climbing since 2013/14, reaching 20 per cent in 2016/17 and 25 per cent two years later in 2018/19.

Around a quarter (24 per cent) of those who are homeless also cite mental health issues as one of the reasons they lost their homes, up from 13 per cent in 2013/14 but down two per cent since 2019/20.

Urging more action from the SNP, Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson Mark Griffin labelled the figures a “damning indictment” of Nicola Sturgeon’s record.

He said: “These shameful figures are a damning indictment of both mental health and homelessness policy over recent years.

“Some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland are being systematically failed by inadequate mental health support, and here we see the most extreme consequences of that.

“Understanding and improving mental health must be embedded into every part of government, including housing.

“With the evictions ban being effectively scrapped, it is more important than ever that the Scottish Government has a plan to prevent homelessness and get people the support they need.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are absolutely committed to ending homelessness in Scotland – and that includes significant investment in addressing its underlying causes. Working with partners, we have developed a Housing First approach, which ensures stable, settled accommodation with intensive support for those who may have more complex needs.

“We have pledged an extra £50 million to end homelessness and rough sleeping. Our updated Ending Homelessness Together action plan, published with COSLA in October 2020, renews our commitment.”

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