Housing, mental health, and homelessness: Exploring lived experiences of homelessness to identify barriers to sustainable housing for vulnerable populations
Cresswell, C. G. (2018). Housing, mental health, and homelessness: Exploring lived experiences of homelessness to identify barriers to sustainable housing for vulnerable populations (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12360
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12360
Homelessness has become a much talked about topic in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2018 and the preceding years. This thesis explores the experiences of five people who have mental illness and have lived experience of homelessness in Aotearoa New Zealand, and two staff members who work closely with people who experience both mental illness and homelessness. The theoretical frameworks that inform this thesis are narrative research, social constructionism and humanistic psychology. Particular attention was paid to using theoretical frameworks and interview methods that suited Māori (the indigenous population of Aotearoa New Zealand) due to the inequities experienced by Māori in mental health and homelessness, and the majority of participants identifying as New Zealand Māori. Participants’ narratives were gathered using semi- structured interviews. This study argues the importance of a humanistic perspective being used for research on homelessness. In contrast to traditional psychology, humanistic psychology emphasises respecting individual participants’ voice and narratives about their personal experiences of homelessness while considering the environment that influence these narratives. The participants’ narratives reflected their desire to be viewed as more than their life circumstances and illness through the sharing of their life stories. While there has been growing public awareness about mental illness, stigma still exists about mental illness which influences social narratives and how people who have mental illness understand their experiences. I argue that people who are vulnerable to homelessness, like those who experience mental illness, should have better protection from homelessness. To achieve this, I argue that structural barriers to finding, gaining and sustaining housing need to be addressed, iii including the design of welfare and housing services. Additionally, there needs to be recognition that the solutions to homelessness are complex and require a whole of system approach to effectively address and prevent homelessness. Recognising the complex nature of homelessness and it’s solutions will help bring a focus to establishing predominantly preventative solutions while also providing emergency housing for people in need.
The University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses