This week, 14 May – 20 May, is a week dedicated to nationally spreading awareness around mental health.
You may have seen recently the statistics showing the number people who live on our streets that suffer from some variation of mental health issues.
Living on the streets can sometimes be one of the most isolating times someone will ever experience. No one to turn to. No one to look up at. No one to have a pint with on a Friday. No support network.
We here at Helping Hands Portsmouth ensure that whoever comes along to our outreach sessions has a chat with our outreach team. Often a “hello, are you okay?” and a grunt reply is what we experience. But that simple question can often lead to someone asking for help and we signpost them and walk with them if they want us to. It does take time. We ensure no one is left behind.
Next time you walk down to the shop, down to KFC or walking home from work, we ask that maybe you speak to a homeless person. If they ask you a question, please be polite enough to reply. They are human at the end of the day.
(illustration from Charlie Mackesy, Instagram user: charliemackesy)
#MentalHealthWeek – Let’s Talk
As you may be aware, this week is Mental Health Awareness week. A national initiative to get people talking. So, we thought we would do a series of posts surrounding the homeless as they may not have chance to talk about it.
In 2014, a report from Homeless Link found that 80% of the homeless community had a mental health issue – 45% of which was diagnosed. According to a report from the ONS (2011) 26% of homeless people said the cause for being homeless was due to having a mental health issue.
As you can see from the word cloud, lots of factors can result in a mental health issue developing. Like many people, taking the first step towards help can be the toughest, even more so when you feel isolated. At Helping Hands Portsmouth, we often are asked by the homeless people of Portsmouth if we can and do signpost people to services and, if they wish, go along to appoints at those services with them too.
Our outreach events often provide the community, social atmosphere and inclusivity with the wider world. This week we are asking people to speak to a homeless person if they feel comfortable doing so – that “Hello – how are you?” could be the most social interaction they have had for the past 24 hours. A little really does go a long way. If a homeless person asks you a question, we ask that you simply reply to them politely, like you would to someone in the office or workplace.