A mixed methods study exploring the long-term effects of poor-quality, insecure urban housing on the mental health of racially minoritized groups in London. 


Supervisor: Jayati Das-Munshi

Studentship start date: 01/10/2023

Application deadline: 31/03/2023

Application details: Further information on how to apply will be detailed from January 2023, in the meantime if you have any questions about the project or application process please get in touch with the supervisor.

Housing is known to be a key social determinant of mental health. Neighbourhood characteristics, internal housing conditions, dwelling type and tenure are associated with mental health outcomes. There is mounting evidence that poor quality housing exacerbates mental health problems. The UK government’s Racial Disparity Audit found that in 2017-2019, 18% of White British households lived in sub-standard/non-decent homes, compared to 24% of Bangladeshi households and 20% of Black Caribbean households. This is described as an ‘ethnic penalty’ whereby minority ethnic groups are more likely to experience housing deprivation, such as overcrowding, damp, and a lack of central heating compared to White British people.

There is a lack of understanding regarding the pathway slinking mental health with housing conditions and neighborhoods, particularly for Black, South Asian and other minority ethnic communities. The CASE partner for this project, Thrive-LDN, is supported by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and responds to urgent public mental health challenges across London. The GLA’s London Health Inequalities Strategy (2018-2020) identified housing as a key priority area in tackling poor health outcomes, by maximising the delivery of affordable housing and creating mixed and inclusive communities through the Opportunity Areas planning framework. Their ‘Right to Thrive’ project works to support the mental health of marginalised communities in London (who have been disproportionately affected by discrimination and the cost-of-living & housing crisis) for the mayor’s recovery mission team. The project has been developed in partnership with Thrive-LDN.

The student will work with Thrive-LDN and undertake analyses of large-scale national UK datasets, alongside mapping areas of London to identify areas with high housing poverty. The student will then interview people living in these high housing poverty areas to explore how their housing issues affect their mental health and wellbeing. The project will use these methods to address the following questions:

1. Do people from Black, South Asian and other minority ethnic communities experience poorer quality housing across the UK and how is this associated with their mental health or wellbeing?

2. What are the experiences of people from Black, South Asian and other minority ethnic communities who reside in high poverty housing areas in term of their mental health.

The student will work closely with Thrive-LDN and people with lived experience of housing issues. The findings from this project will be used to develop policy recommendations, which Thrive-LDN can then share with their partner organisations working in housing and health, across London.

BACKGROUND: Mounting evidence indicates that poor quality housing exacerbates mental health problems. This is particularly acute among racially minoritised groups in the UK, who experience an ‘ethnic penalty’ [1,2], with some groups more likely to experience housing deprivation (e.g. overcrowding, lack of central heating)[2]. There is a striking absence of evidence relating to the interplay of housing deprivation with mental health, particularly for these groups. To address this knowledge gap, we have partnered and developed this proposal with Thrive-LDN, a participatory, city-wide initiative, tackling the wider determinants of mental health and wellbeing in London.

The project will use a sequential mixed methods design, employing quantitative analyses of a nationally representative cohort of 10,000 young adults to understand ethnic inequalities in mental health faced by people experiencing poor housing and insecure tenure. Map-based data visualisations will inform the sampling of residents in high deprivation housing areas in London, for qualitative interviews. An evidence synthesis will be translated into practical policy recommendations to inform Thrive’s organisational objectives.

AIMS: To understand ethnic inequalities in housing and mental health, accounting for people’s lived experiences of housing deprivation and co-producing actionable recommendations.

OBJECTIVES 1. To assess ethnic inequalities in key housing characteristics (e.g. overcrowding, high rent properties) and its associations with wellbeing and mental health, whilst accounting for neighbourhood characteristics (e.g. area deprivation, ethnic density).