Understanding the correlation between homelessness and mental health is crucial in addressing the issues faced by those who are experiencing homelessness.
John Mason’s story underscores the impact of homelessness on mental health and the vital role that organisations like Neami National, a longstanding member of Mental Health Coordinating Council, play in helping people rebuild their lives.
John, who was a skilled roofer working in his father’s business for sixteen years, suffered a severe back injury that left him unwell and addicted to pain medication.
This led to John experiencing a period of homelessness, whilst also facing severe depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder.
John was fortunate enough to receive support from Neami National’s Continuity of Support program, which eventually led to him being referred to the Together Home Program.
Through these programs and the support of a peer worker, John is now in a position where he has become drug-free, has stable accommodation and regained confidence.
Reflecting on this experience, John noted how slowly support becomes available. “The main thing is just the speed that things happen at. There aren’t enough workers out there to assist everyone and not enough homes for everyone – those are the main issues I see.”
John’s experience highlights the challenges that those facing homelessness deal with, including waiting times for support. “It takes quite a while to get into programs… when you’re homeless you just feel worthless. It’s just horrible.”
In New South Wales, homelessness is a significant issue. According to Homelessness Australia, there are over 37,000 people experiencing homelessness in New South Wales alone, with the rate of homelessness increasing faster than Australia’s overall population growth, according to the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2022 report.
Photo: John Mason, 2023, in his home
The impact of homelessness on mental health cannot be overstated. The lack of safety and security that comes with homelessness is likely to exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or contribute to the development of new ones.
This highlights the importance of community-based organisations such as Neami National, which provides vital support to people experiencing homelessness.
“To see life-changing tangible outcomes for individuals, what needs to happen is for systems to work together,” asserts Shane Jakupec, Senior Operations Manager at Neami National. “When it comes to mental health, homelessness and housing is an integral part of getting someone on a trajectory where they can start working on all those other things that are impacting them.”
Shane spoke further about the impact on physical and mental wellbeing and the critical importance of wraparound support for consumers at our Advocates & Allies event ‘Homelessness and mental health: Systemic change for a better future.’
John’s story demonstrates the significance of a multi-disciplinary approach to providing support to those facing homelessness.
His experience exemplifies the positive impact that organisations like Neami National can have in helping people rebuild their lives.
Through sharing his story at our Advocates & Allies event, John let us know that he is also now attending art classes and working towards becoming a peer worker himself.
Watch our recording of the webinar to hear more from both Shane Jakupec and John Mason, here.
Find out more about Neami National and its support services and programs at neaminational.org.au