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Support urged to address mental health toll of housing-related problems

More than one in five adults across England have suffered mental health problems due to a housing problem in the last five years, according to a report from Shelter.

Some 21% of people surveyed said they had experienced issues such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks due to housing pressures.

And one in six (17%) people said the pressure of housing problems had also affected their physical health, with some reporting symptoms such as hair loss, nausea, exhaustion, dizzy spells and headaches, the survey, which included renters and home owners, found.

More than two-thirds (69%) of people who had experienced housing problems in the last five years such as poor conditions, struggling to pay the rent or being threatened with eviction, reported a negative impact on their mental health.

Shelter said research involving GPs in England also found evidence of people visiting their doctor due to bad housing.

It said GPs reported some patients were being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, directly due to housing problems.

The charity is urging anyone who feels overwhelmed by housing problems to get help.

Shelter legal adviser Liz Clare said: "From families in fear of falling further behind on the rent to people dealing with the misery of raising young children in a tiny, mouldy, freezing flat, people can feel completely overwhelmed.

"But getting advice and support for housing problems early can ease the pressure and stop things spiralling out of control."

More than 3,500 people took part in the survey.

Here are some tips from Shelter for easing the pressure of housing problems:

:: If you are living in a home that is not up to scratch, find out what your landlord should do to fix bad conditions

:: If you are falling behind on the rent, get advice and help on negotiating on rent arrears

:: Consider talking to one of Shelter's housing advisers straight away if you are facing eviction

:: You can get help for mental health issues through charities or by speaking to your local GP

:: Help is available at www.shelter.org.uk/advice.

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