The impacts of housing concerns might not be just confined to Australians’ financial circumstances anymore — a new study shows that housing issues could also take a toll on mental health.

Ankur Singh, a University of Melbourne researcher stated that Australia’s property market is changing rapidly and becoming less secure. He stated that Australia’s homeownership is on the decline and that mortgage stress cases are increasing among Australian households.

He stated that housing disadvantages include housing overcrowding, falling behind on rent and mortgage payments, moving house often, insecure housing tenure, subjective perceptions about insufficient housing, eviction, or poor housing conditions.

It did not matter how housing disadvantage was viewed, but it had a correlation with future mental well-being.

Housing disadvantage is common

Singh stated that housing poverty has increased over the last few decades. Singh explained that the public housing sector may provide some relief for those most in need, but many are not able accommodate them due to the lack of supply and long waiting list. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recently found that the growth in social housing stock has not kept pace with the increase in household households in need of a home.

Aside from the lack of housing, the quality has also gotten worse — Singh said many affected households could not keep up with the rising costs of repairs and maintenance.

He stated that temporary solutions can leave people with damp and cold homes, leaky homes during rainstorms, or homes that are not able to support growing families.

Singh stated that nearly one in nine households struggle to make ends meet because of their unaffordable housing. Urban Research and Policy has published this data. Another 1.1 million Australians live with extremely poor housing conditions.

“Given how much housing disadvantage exists, it should be of grave concern to everyone that this is a factor in poor mental health. It suggests that many Australians will have mental health problems that are related or worsened by inadequate housing.

Snapshot of Australia’s Mental Health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that one in five Australians will experience a mental disorder within the next 12 months. Nearly half of Australians will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime.

Mental health is the focus of more than $9bn worth of public and private expenditures. In FY 2017-2018, 4.2 Million Australians were prescribed for mental health issues.

Singh claimed that housing problems have a significant impact upon the mental health of Australians. He stated that it was important for both research and public investments to mental health to consider the housing situation of individuals.

“Housing plays a central role in our daily lives. He stated that housing is essential to our lives when it’s accessible, secure, and in good shape.