Psychosis (young people)

Housing, managing finances, and getting benefits with psychosis

Impact of psychosis on finances
 
Psychosis often had an effect on people’s finances, both in terms of employment and earnings, and how much money they spent. Their mental health could directly or indirectly, cause people to spend more or could interfere with choices about spending and saving. Luke, who had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, said he would sometimes spend unnecessarily or gamble, and it was a struggle to manage his finances.
Financial support and benefits
 
Some people we spoke to were working when they first experienced psychosis and felt too unwell to continue, or their employers did not understand their needs or how best to support them. Some were given sick pay initially when they were off work. A few received support from parents, but there were others who had no alternative means of financial support and were unemployed or studying when they first experienced psychosis. 
 
Most had applied for some financial support (in the form of benefits) at some point, including;
  • PIP (Personal Independence Payment)
  • Disability living allowance (under 16s)
  • Statutory Sick Pay 
  • ESA (Employment and Support Allowance – previously Incapacity benefit)
  • Job seekers allowance (age 18 onwards)
Applying for benefits was often a frustrating process. Some people said they were told at the start that their application was unlikely to be successful.
Others felt that their psychosis was not taken seriously or seen as a real disability.
Housing
 
Many of the young people we spoke to were living alone or in shared accommodation such as supported housing or student accommodation. A few had moved back to live with family and one person had bought her own flat. Most people had times when they relied on charities, housing associations, government support or family in some form. Haphazard spending or having gaps when benefits had not been paid, for example having them stopped for a period of time, could mean that young people were unable to pay their rent, and found themselves going into rent arrears.
Living with family could be helpful because there were people around for support, but sometimes this created other challenges. For example, some people had difficult family relationships while others had frequent hallucinations that involved family members being hurt. For Dominic, whose psychosis often involved seeing images of family members being hurt, moving away was the scariest thing he’d ever done because he wanted to be near to protect them. Hannah felt moving away from home to study was exciting but also daunting.
 
Most people described getting help, especially from charities, with applying for housing support. Chapman was homeless for 6 months to a year and charity staff helped by calling places to try and find him somewhere to stay temporarily. However, this was inconsistent and on one occasion he was told they couldn’t help because he is still in the process of seeking asylum. 
 
A few people lived in residential or supported housing for a while, where there were wardens on site. Being in residential or supported housing could mean someone was available to give them their medication on a regular basis, and it could be helpful to have support staff available in the building when you were struggling.
Moving into independent housing could be more challenging and having help with something as simple as unpacking could be really important.
While support from charities such as housing associations was available it tended to vary from one area to the next. When Ruby moved from supported housing to independent housing she received a “comprehensive pack” from the housing association but her friend, who was with a different housing association, received nothing. She and her friends created an information pack with the help of a charity so that people moving into independent housing in her area had proper advice.
 
The location people lived in could also have a big impact on their sense of wellbeing, which in turn could affect their mental health. For example. people who lived in an area where they saw or were involved with drug dealing, or excessive alcohol drinking often wanted to move away to enable them to move forward with their lives. Others described practical reasons for wanting to move. Green Lettuce felt that moving out of the countryside might help him to find work in IT more easily.

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