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Are there tensions between ASB staff and health professionals over tenants with mental health issues?

Allison Savory. Senior Lecturer, School of Management and Professional Studies, Buckinghamshire New University

Allison’s research found that:

1. Housing providers believe that:-

  • Mental health services do not provide support for social housing tenants if they are undiagnosed and/or do not fulfil the criteria for treatment and do not provide information that could assist in supportive action which leaves no option but to take enforcement action to resolve ASB issues.
  • The community is often aware of the legislation and practices that are available to housing providers and urge eviction to rid themselves of the problem.
  • Tenants are unwilling to engage with support services and tensions arise when different conflicting procedures are being followed and these services fail to resolve issues.

2. Mental health professionals believe that:-

  • Those diagnosed with a mental health condition are not responsible for the majority of ASB. Tensions arise with tenants who are not diagnosed but whose behaviour has a mental health element to it and housing staff expect mental health professionals to provide support.
  • Those with variable mental capacity are more likely to live in the “over regulated” world of social housing and the confidential nature of mental health overrides the needs of the community and social housing landlords.

3. Recommendations for the way forward:-

  • Only have ASB teams in high incidence areas allowing the situation to guide the role and not the other way round and disband teams when ASB rates and types are of a low level.
  • All agencies to examine the root cause of a tenants behaviour instead of looking for a quick injunction or eviction solution.
  • Liaison between relevant agencies to be strengthened and local policies, protocols and practices to be shared between all professionals including police, mental health charities and private agencies.
  • More inclusion of tenants with mental health issues within the social housing community. Day centres are seen as a haven by many with housing associations having more access to funds than overstretched local authorities and able to take the lead in creating centres to prevent or detect early any developing issues.
  • Tenants with mental health problems appreciate attendance at day centres and priority should be given to such centres when funding priorities are decided.
  • Housing should be seen as an equal partner in discussions about issues likely to affect those living in the affordable sector as people with variable mental capacity are more likely to live in social housing.

4. Implications for services

  • Recommendations are that there should be stronger links between professionals and for social housing organisations to be part of the mental health service delivery. Implications for this would be a more joined up approach to ensure that clients are supported rather than punitively treated, with the potential of making them homeless.

5. Disclaimer:

  • The above recommendations have been collated through this study and suggested by its author. However, other interpretations are possible. Therefore, the final recommendation of this study is that it should be disseminated to housing organisations, mental health services and other relevant agencies for them to read and suggest their own way forward to manage the problem of tenants with variable mental capacity causing ASB.

To read the full article go to page 5 of Resolution News here

Note: The ReACT ASB Case Management System is the ideal software tool to assist social landlords and others to manage all incidents of antisocial behaviour including cases involving those with variable mental health capacity.

For more information about how ReACT can help please contact Nicola Tomlinson on 0121 384 2513 (selecting option 4) or email to nicola.tomlinson@react-asb.co.uk