Imagine walking through your front door tonight. How do you feel?
Relieved? Peaceful? Tense? Joyful? Supported? Overwhelmed?
Are you looking forward to spending many more years watching the change of seasons outside your window and exchanging friendly waves with neighbors? Or are you counting down the days until you can leave and never look back?
If reading those questions made you feel a little more relaxed or stressed you out, then you already know how much of a difference home can make in your overall health and well-being. The quality of your housing – from the condition of the building, to the layout of the rooms and windows, to the character of your block or neighborhood – has significant impact on the state of your mind, body and spirit. For people already living with behavioral health challenges, the constant stressors that come with poor quality housing can make it difficult to maintain wellness or even trigger crises.
If your rooms are dark, damp or drafty, you might be at risk for health problems from mold or airborne illnesses. Pest problems like roaches and rodents certainly increase anxiety and can bring exposure to disease. Having to stay in a place that is falling down all around you because you can’t afford anywhere better can exacerbate depression and increase isolation. Even if the building where you live is in pretty good shape, feeling unsafe or unwelcome in your home or neighborhood makes it hard to form the habits and relationships that sustain a life in recovery.
The good news is that living in quality, affordable housing in ‘neighborhoods of opportunity’ can promote better health outcomes, especially for people living with chronic illness. (1) Let’s look at some of the housing factors that can create positive benefits for health...