One of the hardest things about living in this sort of Mind supported housing, at least for me, is living in shared accommodation. If you already have mental health issues that can have a social impact, living in such a place with someone else who also has similar issues may well be a considerable issue!
See my old rant, Living with an Audacious Idiot, if you’re curious as to how frustrating and problematic it can get living with someone with mental health issues. Do note that I’m not saying absolutely everyone with mental health issues is a nightmare to live with!
Living in shared accommodation presents issues whether you have mental health problems or not, I understand that, but when you live with someone potentially unstable, as I have done, it becomes pretty intense, especially if they are driving you so crazy (being rude, disrespectful, argumentative, deceptive, and so on) that you end up losing your temper with them.
Each tenant has a support worker assigned to them, whom they may have to see once a week, which is actually a requirement of the tenancy agreement. Unfortunately, there are plenty of times I haven’t had such a “support session” because a support worker (I’ve now had two assigned to me) hasn’t been available.
I’ve been texted, E-Mailed, and called to tell me that a support worker is stuck in traffic, working elsewhere, or for whatever other reason cannot make it. I’m not sure where this leaves me with regards to the tenancy agreement, but I’ve so far not been booted, so that’s a plus.
Due to the severity of the mental health or other issues (such as drug misuse and alcoholism) that some people in these places may have, the support workers do potentially have a lot on their plate, and there are risks. Thankfully, I’m not one of those people.
The down side of living with someone potentially unstable (the possibly aggressive, abusive sort of people) is that I may have to live with such a person, which can be disconcerting, potentially risky, and counter-productive with regards to the support of one’s mental health and general living.
I’ve heard plenty of scary stories of unstable, unpredictable people who have lived in these places, and attending the interview (mentioned at the beginning of the first post, Mind the Supported Housing) was a considerable and interesting insight.
Due to my experiences and the stories I’ve heard, I’m clear in my opinion that people with socially-challenging kinds of mental health issues should not be packed together in a supportive environment, due to the potential risks involved. If it must happen, I believe there needs to be a new system set in place to ensure nothing malicious or unfair is going on, with regards to the tenants.
As someone with social anxiety and OCD, I struggled to speak up and be clear about the problems I had with my previous flatmate; he was manipulative and frequently tried to intimidate me, but my OCD kept me thinking what if this and what if that, so I couldn’t have a clear thought that, yes, he was in fact being problematic. My uncertainty apparently made it very difficult for the support worker(s) to take the appropriate action.
In the end, despite countless warnings and calm explanations, it actually took me considerably losing my temper with my previous flatmate, the police involved, myself and my parents insisting something be done, and my having to sleep on floors for a month or so before the support workers decided to take action and move me elsewhere; they actually tried to get me to go back and live with the “audacious idiot” after what happened! Had I less control, it could’ve well taken a bleaker turn. Not a good system at all—I was and still am appalled.
Part 3 can be found via this link!