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.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, we sat down for a chat with Vanessa Owens from Complete Counselling Leicestershire. Vanessa provides some of the people we support with regular counselling…

“I first got involved with Emmaus after I posted on a Hinckley forum, offering low-cost/affordable counselling for those in greatest need. The charity got in touch and we’ve been working together ever since.

I offer counselling sessions to companions who feel they may benefit. I am trained as an integrative counsellor, which means no one mode of therapy fits all, so it is very adaptable to each individual. I have offered support for anxiety, trauma, worry, depression and low self-esteem.

Each session last 50 minutes. When we first started, they took place as a ‘walk and talk’: we met and had a stroll through a local green space as we chatted. During the covid lockdowns, we adapted to provide counselling through online Zoom sessions. More recently, we’ve been able to meet face to face again, and I hold sessions in person at the Emmaus offices.

I’ve worked with a number of companions who feel they have benefitted from their sessions. I’ve enjoyed working with the companions, the team, and managers at Emmaus. Until they got in touch, I’d not heard of the charity. I now fully understand how Emmaus helps people get back on their feet after they’ve faced homelessness. The support there is second to none, and the team work relentlessly to help each companion achieve their best potential.

I’m happy to support Mental Health Awareness Week to raise awareness, to encourage people to ask for help; it is so important to get people talking about their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

I am honoured to work with everyone involved at Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland. The energy and support I see and hear about is very inspiring. I’ll be doing all I can to raise awareness and to offer counselling to those who need it, now and in the future.”

Steve is one of our companions who has worked with Vanessa:


“I’ve always known I had some mental health problems, but I was under the impression that mental health isn’t a real thing and to be a man you didn’t talk about such things. I was very unsure about the counselling sessions at first, but I found they really helped me. I now use the tools I was taught, every day.”