People experiencing homelessness are more likely to have mental health problems.

Studies show that 45% of people who are homeless have been diagnosed with a mental health issue. For those rough sleeping, this number goes up to 80%.

Poor mental health can lead to homelessness, but homelessness can also cause mental health problems. When people have mental health issues, they may face situations that lead to them becoming homeless. Not having a stable home can also make people feel stressed and anxious, which can make their mental health worse or cause new problems.

At Emmaus Dover, we know how crucial it is to address mental health concerns and provide the necessary support for our companions. It is often companions themselves who are the most proactive in addressing these concerns, both for themselves and others.

We would like to give a special shoutout to Steve, whose own mental health journey and special connection with physical fitness and mental health leads him to help other companions in our community become a better version of themselves.

“I’ve got a special connection with physical fitness and mental health, so I’m doing everything I can to get all my physical health training qualifications. At the moment, we’ve got our own little community gym, and I help train the companions and staff and also help them with nutrition. I help out wherever I can really.

To take care of my own mental health, I take a very mild anti-depressant and go to counselling every week or so. I got funding from the Wellbeing Fund to also go to the gym as often as I can. It’s only about five minutes away, and it’s my safe space – when I’m in the gym and I’ve got my weights, I’m on my own, I’ve got my music, I’m happy. I’m in my safe space.

I don’t suffer with depression as much as I used to thanks to all the coursework and the training I’ve been doing, as it’s keeping my mind busy. I’m not over processing, I’m not over analysing anymore. I’m just taking each day as it comes. I look forward to starting my day when I wake up in the morning, and especially to the training and the courses that I’m taking. Applying my mental health into something positive has really changed everything.

I’m very involved with the community at Emmaus Dover – I’m the Community Rep, I’m in the International Solidarity Committee, and I’m also Vice Chair for the Companions Forum. If you have a depression, being able to work in different things and make an impact makes a huge difference. You get to meet lots of different people while working in the shop, for example. Sometimes you get people who just come up to the shop to have a talk. They also have stories of their own. Maybe they’re lonely, maybe they’re also struggling with their mental health. I often find myself listening to their story and having a laugh and a joke, as the shop is a safe space for everyone.

What I like the most about Emmaus is the camaraderie. To put it bluntly, Emmaus has given me a second chance to improve myself. Now it’s about doing everything I can to help the community and the movement.”

Read Steve’s full story here: