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    The home and mental health: an exploration of perceptions, connections and attachments to social housing for residents and housing professionals in Manchester, United Kingdom

    Kelly, Phoebe (2023) The home and mental health: an exploration of perceptions, connections and attachments to social housing for residents and housing professionals in Manchester, United Kingdom. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This doctoral study is an exploration of the home environment, mental health, and the role of housing associations in supporting resident welfare. The home is significant, having the ability to provide protection and privacy, a secure base to develop relationships, build identity and feel safe from the outside world. However, many individuals are unable to experience these protective factors within their home setting for multiple reasons. This thesis is framed within the context of the Devolution Agenda in Manchester, where there has been an emphasis on the integration of health and social care services (such as social housing providers) in efforts to tackle mental ill health and persistent health inequalities. This thesis undertook a multi-method approach that consists of a qualitative analysis of two focus groups with a housing provider and seven semi-structured interviews with residents within Gorton, an area located North of Manchester, UK. The research was conducted in two phases to capture the perceptions and experiences of socially housed residents, alongside investigating the understandings and professional realities of housing providers. My research is informed by a critical realist approach, where I apply concepts such as ontological security, place, social capital, and stigma, to make sense of interactions between the home and mental health. The findings in this thesis highlight how the home environment can interact with mental health outcomes through various psychological, social, and environmental dimensions. Being able to establish and maintain a sense of home was important for residents, and this provided a source of security, self-esteem, and autonomy. Residents demonstrated complex articulations of place, where the importance of social networks, local value systems and a sense of belonging all reflected the deep connections and meanings attached to the home. Physical deterioration, the closure of local amenities and fragmented relationships with the service provider undermined the mental wellbeing of residents. The findings from this thesis identified a disconnect between how residents experienced their home and community and how the housing provider interprets residents support needs and the delegation of resources. In this thesis I highlight how integrated health approaches require further consideration to ensure services are needs-sensitive and reflective of residents’ priorities. Through bringing together the perspectives of residents and housing professionals, this research makes a unique contribution to the integration of health approaches, the less tangible aspects of the home setting, and mental wellbeing.

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