Our Group Chief Executive, Aileen Evans, is extremely proud to have launched a new guide to help housing organisations whose customers may have mental health problems. The guide was developed with support from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and the charity MIND, Aileen’s chosen presidential campaign as CIH president. It looks at the approaches that will help organisations be better equipped to tackling and preventing mental ill health. Aileen said: “I’m committed to using my presidency to shine a light on mental health in the sector. It’s an issue that affects both people who live and work in affordable housing, and I want to make sure that housing professionals are part of the solution on mental health; never part of the problem. Sadly, the life experiences that lead to priority for social housing – homelessness, relationship breakdown and the like – can often take a toll in terms of wellbeing. People often come to us in times of crisis. They look to us for a home, and we can’t walk away from our responsibility. We can’t risk failing people from whom everyone else may have already walked away. Housing officers aren’t mental health specialists, and we’re not trying to change that. Our new guide is aimed at raising awareness, and helping staff understand how they can support people to get the help they need. Sometimes, we do nothing because we’re afraid of doing the wrong thing. Having a mental health problem can make it more challenging to maintain a tenancy. The reasons for these difficulties are complex, and problems with money, mental health and housing can sometimes overlap. The guide emphasises the importance of good communication – using plain language and understanding people’s communication preferences. It includes practical recommendations in three key areas: managing rent arrears; communicating effectively with customers, and training staff.” To read the guide, visit the CIH website here. The CIH have also produced a fantastic video about mental health in the housing sector, including an interview with Aileen.