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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Understanding mental health and learning disability in ASB cases


When dealing with housing management issues and cases of anti-social behaviour (ASB), housing teams will frequently come face to face with mental ill health and learning disability. These can be hidden impairments, says Jack Moore, CIH's principal diversity trainer - so how can we make sure we understand them?

Jigsaw houseCounty and Criminal Court judges are becoming increasingly attentive to the subject of mental ill health or suspected mental ill health. It's imperative for successful housing management and ASB case-handling that housing officers and ASB practitioners are pro-active in their approach to mental illness - I'd argue that the housing professional should be assuming potential mental health disorder from the outset of a case, rather than waiting for the perpetrator or victim to declare it. This would mean they could adjust the way they communicate from an early stage.

The whole question of mental health should be addressed much earlier - from the start of the lettings process, at sign-up and in post-sign-up visits. With ongoing cuts in community mental health teams and social services departments, housing teams and even repairs operatives are the ones picking up on the early stages of mental illness. This is why it's so closely linked to safeguarding.

Learning disability is a lifelong condition, unlike mental illness which can develop at any time and with the right support and intervention can be very successfully treated. In my experience nationally, the vast majority of housing staff can't differentiate between learning disability and learning difficulty, and this doesn't reflect well on housing. Nor does the use of outdated and negative language around mental health and learning disability.

I'm delivering a CIH training course - Understanding mental illness and learning disability in anti-social behaviour and housing management - on 11 December. The session attracts consistent positive feedback and equips delegates with the confidence and knowledge they need to deal with customers, perpetrators and victims with mental health disorders, learning disabilities and learning difficulties. It also aims to heighten awareness of developmental difficulties, autistic spectrum disorders and personality disorders, and explains signs to look for at an early stage.  The course covers relevant housing-related legislation and case law, and explains the tools that are available to housing professionals.

Find out more

  • Event: Staff tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) and housing management often struggle to understand mental illness and learning disability. Jack's one day workshop aims to increase understanding of mental illness and learning disability, the effect on housing and the practical tools and responses available to the housing professional. The course explores both victim and perpetrator perspectives. Book for 10 November (Coventry) or 7 December (London)

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