Mental Health and Homelessness

Mental Health and Homelessness

In April, MHCT caught up with one of Bethlehem House’s Senior Case Managers, Jeff. MHCT hopes to speak to a variety of the people who contribute to improving the mental health of all Tasmanians. This month they wanted to focus on one of the biggest issues affecting our state right now: Housing.

Jeff has worked at Bethlehem House for 4 years and he loves it. Jeff, like many social care sector workers, has a wealth of life-experience to bring to his role, having previously managed large teams in the disability sector and been a successful businessman. Jeff said that he loves coming to work knowing he is helping men to feel safe and catch their breath whilst they work out what to do next with their lives.

When asked what the best part of his job was, Jeff said it was knowing that they had a real opportunity to improve men’s lives

“when men stay with us, it means they are pretty vulnerable, so to be able to offer a bed, a meal and some support, every day, that’s a good feeling that you can’t really get in many other jobs”

Jeff wanted to point out that there was a much higher correlation between mental health and homelessness than people may think.

“I’d say at least 70% of the guys here are experiencing some sort of mental health issue”.

Like all good workers in the sector, Jeff has a self-care plan; which consists of regular debriefs and self-reflection but also forward planning. Jeff strikes me as a very pragmatic thinker. He mentioned that part of his self-care plan was to always have strategies for how he could manage the variety of situations that the shelter could be presented with

“There’s always something you can do to  help someone , its important to have strategies in place for when difficult situations arise.”

Considering MHCT current campaign ‘Moving towards a mentally healthy Tasmania’  Jeff said that better access to step up step down supported housing facilities where by men could transition from hospital, to a semi supported arrangement is what is needed.

“Some get offered houses but they may not be ready to live independently so we see that housing arrangement fall over because other more supported options aren’t available”

Mental Health Council of Tasmania feels privileged to be in a position that advocates for the needs of services such as Bethlehem house who work around the clock, holding hope for some of Tasmania’s most vulnerable individuals.

If you would like to get behind a national campaign to improve our housing system, click here.

Article by Brittany Szlezak
Mental Health Council of Tasmania