Mental health and moving home

April 12th, 2016 by Home Group Client, Mark Ellerby in Features

A diverse group of people of all ages stand outside a house cheering with their hands in the air.

Moving house can be stressful for anyone, but what about when you have the added pressure of mental health issues? When faced with the reality of this, it made me think about what the potential outcome could be and what impact that could have on my mental health.

Moving house can be stressful for anyone, but what about when you have the added pressure of mental health issues? When faced with the reality of this, it made me think about what the potential outcome could be and what impact that could have on my mental health.

I live in a former older person’s home which is now a mental health project, but because it is such a size and very expensive to run it was threatened with closure. At the present time it is secure but it could – in the future – still be at risk of closure.

I moved into sheltered accommodation as I was unable to live independently due to my illness and my need for security and support.

Living in supported accommodation isn’t easy at the best of times. In my present surroundings I have been through many difficult times, but I have always been able to get through them with the current support arrangements and now regard my room as a sanctuary.

The news of the potential closure came as a shock to us all, none of us had ever anticipated anything like this could ever happen. A former social worker of mine once told me “I am in fairly secure employment and I would say that your place here is even more secure than that.” But that reassurance was fading and although nothing was certain, I did what I always try not to do – panic!

What if I was forced to give it up my home? There were so many questions and worries. Where would I go? Will it be smaller? What would happen to my furniture? My housemates? But most importantly me?
 
The smallest changes to an environment, such as someone new arriving or someone leaving, can impact on your mental stability and disrupt that crucial therapeutic living process, but having to move away entirely takes it to a whole new level. You have to get used to a new environment and potentially all new flat mates, not to mention the local area and social opportunities.

One possible eventuality is that it might cause me to suffer with depression in addition to schizophrenia. Some people I know have both, and occasionally complain that depression is worse than, or at least just as bad as, schizophrenia.

Plus, as it is most likely that any other sheltered accommodation because it is not in a former old person’s home will be much smaller, it will be much harder to live individually. Therefore will be less personal space meaning that any tensions and crisis within the group will be felt much more keenly.

After considering the possible repercussions of this move it is clear that it could have a distinct impact on mine and my housemate’s mental health and I think for some clients a house move such as this really could make life with an illness that bit more difficult could even set back their independence to the point that they would need to return to hospital.

Today I am still unable to live by myself and it would not be possible for my house mates to share a mortgage to live independently, however attractive this might be. Regardless of the security of my home so far, the fact there might have been any financial questions marks over our home is likely to stick in my memory for some time to come and just reinforces the importance of a safe, stable environment to call home.

Some of our editors experienced moving themselves before settling at Aviary House. Here they share their experiences and advice:

AO - “I cried the day we moved in because it was absolutely brill.  I have settled in my new flat and I don’t smoke in there and I keep it really clean.”

H – “When I was told I would be moving to Aviary House I panicked because I sort of wanted to stay at Ipswich Walk. I didn’t know who was taking me, I had left it late packing all my belongings although I was longing to move.  One of the staff helped me to put my ornaments in my new flat. The first day I came I was happy.”

L - “I was scared because I didn’t know the staff and how everything worked. I started going to the activities and talking to the staff and other residents and I started to settle in and not be scared anymore.”

A - “I was uncertain because I didn’t know the set up but since I’ve moved here my depression has got better, I go to the gym twice a week on a ‘doc spot’, I go to college to do computers, and the shops are convenient. I’ve started to become happier, and I’m getting back to my old self.”