Homeless people need better access to mental health services

11 September 2014

Porchlight welcomed this week’s report from the government’s chief medical officer which calls for mental health to be made a bigger priority in the NHS, but says that accessing and utilising healthcare is a particular challenge for homeless people because many of them see it as a low priority compared to their other needs.

“Those who are sleeping rough or sofa surfing may not be registered with a local GP practice” says Chris Coffey, head of community services at Porchlight. “As a result they are more likely to attend A&E departments for healthcare which is expensive and doesn’t necessarily address the underlying issues.

“Porchlight is working alongside GP surgeries to provide an innovative new service which gives vulnerable people information and support and helps them stay engaged with any treatment. We know that gaining access to secondary mental health services for severe conditions can be difficult so the earlier we intervene, the better.”

Porchlight’s Primary Care Community Link service, which is funded by Kent County Council, Public Health and the local clinical commissioning groups, is part of the charity’s wider support pathway which offers long terms solutions for homeless and vulnerable people. “We help our service users develop life skills such as cooking and managing money, as well as the confidence to enter employment or education,” says Chris.

By breaking down barriers and encouraging engagement, we can help people live without support and make a valuable contribution to society.