Social capital and mental health in homeless people
Whilst the European Parliament have recently increased efforts to promote access to good quality care and to reduce health inequalities, homelessness across Europe is on the rise. In England, estimates suggest that 4,000 people in 2016 were sleeping rough on any given night, up 21% from 2015. In London, rates of rooflessness have shown an estimated 3% – 7% increase over the last year. Homelessness has been well documented to have detrimental effects on mental health. Homeless people display elevated rates comparatively to the general public, of problems such as, depression, alcohol/drug dependence and psychoses. Despite their need for care, homeless people experience many barriers when trying to access services. Homelessness not only contributes to great distress amongst those affected, but places great strain on NHS services. Hospital admissions per homeless individual are four times that of the general public and on average homeless patients cost NHS services 4-8 times that of the general population.As rates of homelessness are rising, it is increasingly important to develop an effective strategy to alleviate mental distress in those affected and to reduce homelessness. One innovative and unexplored avenue is to explore homelessness through the lens of social capital theory. Social capital refers to the social relationships within groups and communities. It comprises: bridging (ties amongst individuals within a homogenous group), bonding (ties amongst individuals of heterogeneous groups) and linking (ties with institutions of authority and power e.g. the government). Bonding helps people to get by and provides essential social cohesion and support, bridging helps people to get ahead and promotes societal respect and solidarity and linking helps to mobilise political resources and power.Nadia’s research will focus on those who are roofless (those without shelter of any kind). It aims to answer the following questions: 1) to what extent do homeless people have social capital? 2) what are the advantages/disadvantages of bridging, bonding and linking for homeless people? 3) what is the role of social capital in mental health amongst homeless people?
1 – Health Practices, Innovation & Implementation