Rethink Mental IllnessA new film featuring mental health ambassador and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell has been launched that highlights the need for a fair deal on supported housing for everyone affected by mental illness. 

The film, from charity Rethink Mental Illness and launched to coincide with Schizophrenia Awareness Week (3-9 October), sees Campbell talk to 32-year-old Mark, who has paranoid schizophrenia. Mark lives in supported housing, and had been homeless, unemployed, and in and out of hospital on an almost weekly basis when his illness was at its worst. After 3 years Mark is now in a position to move out and begin living independently again.  

Campbell, who recently revealed his brother Donald's battle with schizophrenia following his death earlier this summer, said in the film: “If people with severe mental illness can get proper support, have somewhere decent to live and people around them who understand and appreciate them, they can give something back. It’s so important that supported housing services exist.”

Research shows that 1 in 5 people with a severe mental illness live in supported housing – the second largest group living in this kind of accommodation after older people. Yet people with a mental health condition are also four times more likely to report that poor housing has made their health worse.

Alongside the film, Rethink Mental Illness has launched its campaign petition, called A Place Called Home, calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to ensure full funding for safe and secure supported housing for people severely affected by mental illness, for as long as they need it and wherever they live.

Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Supported housing is fundamental to the many people who have a mental illness and are not well enough to live independently. It provides a safe roof over your head but also the vital extras which can include access to support groups, or help with life skills like budgeting or finding a job. 

“In her acceptance speech on become Prime Minister, Theresa May said that ‘if you suffer from mental health problems there's not enough help to hand.’ She was quite right to acknowledge the difficulties people with mental illness have getting the right kind of support. Yet there is now a big question mark hanging over supported housing. Without this kind of support, it will only mean people will be forced to rely more heavily on already overstretched mental health services further down the line.”  

To watch the film, click here.

The full campaign report can be found here

You can sign Rethink Mental Illness’ petition here.