author, elizabeth wierbinski
Since 1992, World Mental Health Day has been observed every year on October 10th to raise awareness about mental health around the world and to mobilize efforts to support those experiencing mental health issues. This year’s theme, according to The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), is “Make mental health & well-being for all a global priority.”
Many have heard the phrase, “Housing is Healthcare.” It is one that Housing Visions knows to be true through our years of developing and managing affordable housing. When someone does not have safe, quality, and affordable housing, it becomes much more challenging to address other needs they might be experiencing such as paying bills, going to the doctor, seeking treatment for substance abuse, or focusing on improving their mental health. Obtaining housing makes it possible to build the foundation for better stability and makes it more likely a person is able to address concerns with fewer distractions and barriers. Whether an individual or family is having difficulty paying rent, living in overcrowded conditions, is facing eviction, or is homeless, housing insecurity exposes them to increased stress and mental and physical health problems. According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, a stable residence facilitates effective interaction with others, ensures a clean, dry, secure environment fundamental to personal hygiene and protection from the elements, promotes the establishment of personal relationships, decreases anxiety and consequently reduces stress-related illness.
Anxiety and stress were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue today, including social anxiety stemming from people’s fear of contracting illness, social isolation, and economic and housing insecurity (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2022). It is essential that these issues are acknowledged and tended to. Housing Visions is dedicated to providing residents the support they need to feel secure in their housing and improve their quality of life. We have robust partnerships with organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, the YWCA Syracuse & Onondaga County, the YWCA of Binghamton & Broome County, CAP of Madison County, Behavioral Health Services North, and the Syracuse VA Medical Center, among others in order to provide the support services necessary to resident success in our supportive housing projects at VanKeuren Square, Butternut Crossing, Ethel T. Chamberlain, Winston Gaskin Homes, Endicott Square,Northwoods, Moyer Carriage Lofts (currently under construction), and The Landing at Burke Meadows (slated to break ground in January 2023). These services often include things like case management, mental health treatment and advocacy, crisis services, domestic violence counseling, life skills courses, and support groups. Housing Visions also offers housing stability services in the Syracuse, Lockport, and Niagara Falls regions. In January 2022, Housing Visions formed its Housing Services Department to strengthen our commitment to housing stabilization across our rental housing portfolio. Building upon our core values of Quality, Respect, Integrity, and Compassion, the department employs a variety of innovative strategies and services designed to support residents facing housing instability. Our Housing Stability Coordinators provide tenants direct support through case management, tenant empowerment, eviction prevention services, and community-building and socialization activities. Housing Visions staff are trained in trauma-informed care, mental health first aid, and other relevant topics that have equipped them with the skills to acknowledge, manage, and support the particular life challenges commonly faced by tenants.
Over and over again, we see how access to affordable housing can have lasting positive impacts on a person’s mental health and overall well-being. World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity for people, organizations, and systems to come together to promote mental health and create awareness about the issues associated with mental illness. Housing Visions is dedicated to doing our part to advocate for the creation of and access to stable, affordable housing as a critical piece to the overall mental health of our community.