It is difficult to know precisely where the future of affordable housing will take us in the next five years. However, we can confidently say that supporting housing services for people with mental health challenges will be a significant part of it.
Property managers must be aware of our residents facing mental health challenges. Our country faces an unprecedented mental health crisis among people of all ages, with nearly 50 million Americans experiencing mental health challenges and two out of five adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression.
It is no secret that property managers already wear various hats: manager, counselor, investigator, marketer, accountant, enforcer, customer service representative, etc. We’ve talked about this before. However, to address the needs of the 1 in 5 Americans who struggle with mental health issues daily, the painful reality is that we must educate ourselves to be compassionate and supportive while providing a safe and secure place to live.
Extreme mood changes, uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
Irritability or anger
Avoiding friends and social activities
Difficulty understanding or relating to other people
Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (“lack of insight” or anosognosia)
Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
Thinking about suicide
Inability to carry out daily activities or handle typical problems and stress
Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)
Signs of self-harm (cutting, burning, etc.)
Some managers may want to avoid residents who experience these mental health challenges but keep in mind that those residents we refer to as “special,” “difficult,” or “challenging” need our support more today than ever. We must also be mindful of how we interact with them and what we say to them.
What to say
Knowing the right thing to say to someone with a mental health crisis can be very difficult. You may not have to say anything. Just listen. Be sure to support instead of criticize and encourage the resident instead of punishing them and be empathetic to what they are experiencing. Here are a few things NAMI suggests:
“You don’t seem like yourself. What’s going on?”
I’ve noticed you [seem down, are sleeping more, etc.]. I’m here if you need to talk.”
“You’re not alone.”
Remember, listening is essential!
We manage our properties like we are superheroes, but we are not. The interaction and outcome with the individuals living with mental illness will not always be what we expect. Educating ourselves is the key to making a difference. So continue to do your best, and let’s keep the conversation going.
Mental Health Challenges Resources
If you or someone you know needs help, several resources are available. The following is a list from Mental Health America.
StrongHearts Native Helpline: Call 1-844-762-8483. The StrongHearts Native Helpline Is A Confidential And Anonymous Culturally-Appropriate Domestic Violence And Dating Violence Helpline For Native Americans, Available Every Day From 7 A.m. To 10 P.m. CT.
Caregiver Help Desk: Contact Caregiver Action Network’s Care Support Team By Dialing855-227-3640. Staffed by caregiving experts, the Help Desk helps you find the right information you need to help you navigate your complex caregiving challenges. Caregiving experts are available 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM ET.
The Partnership For Drug-Free Kids Helpline: Call 1-855-378-4373 if you are having difficulty accessing support for your family, or a loved one struggling with addiction faces care or treatment challenges resulting from COVID-19 circumstances, the Partnership for Drug-free Kids’ specialists can guide you. Support is available in English and Spanish, from 9:00 am -midnight ET weekdays and noon-5:00pm ET on weekends.
Physician Support Line: The Physician Support Line Is Available At 1-888-409-0141 Every Day From 8:00 AM – 1:00 AM ET. Physician Support Line Is A National, Free, And Confidential Support Line Service Made Up Of 600+ Volunteer Psychiatrists To Provide Peer Support For Other Physicians And American Medical Students.