At a time when many professional support services are facing cuts, if you have a neighbour who you know or believe to have a mental health problem then knowing when to intervene can be very difficult.
Whilst some individuals may go days, months or even years living next to a neighbour without coming into much contact with them, difficulties can become much more visible in certain environments such as public sector housing.
Whilst your neighbour may not stroll over to you when collecting their milk delivery to tell you they have a mental health problem, often living in close quarters with others leads to assumptions and suspicions that are often correct.
Living in a detached house or in a private cul-de-sac location offers much more privacy than social housing. The nature of many social housing flats mean that they are small and inadequately soundproofed, and in addition – social tenancy is often very difficult to get. The demand for social housing far exceeds availability, so when a single young person is given a flat it is often assumed that there is a reason for this by other residents.
Furthermore, social housing means that any interventions such as those from police, ambulances, support workers and nurses etc. are very visible. It may be that you also come across neighbours in the waiting room at your local GP surgery, in a hospital ward, or you may have experienced a mental health problem yourself so recognise their situation. So when this does happen, how should you respond?
If you believe that a neighbour is at a serious risk then you have an obligation to intervene. However, nowadays often the situation sits in some middle ground making intervention potentially problematic.
It is not easy to suddenly pretend you are ‘unaware’ of something you are aware of, but it is also equally difficult to step over the line and potentially become an intrusive neighbour.
For neighbours who are keen not to be drawn into the situation, even if you establish a set of boundaries for yourself, if someone is in need in the early hours of the morning it becomes very difficult to say no, especially when professional support is being cut left right and center. With this in mind, situations such as these could become increasingly common and it may be that we all find ourselves having to make a similar decision at some point or another.
If you found yourself in this situation how would you react? Would you intervene or prefer to stay out of things, and if you have a mental health problem how would you feel if a neighbour became involved? We would be interested to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.