For the most part, we think about personal safety and security in physical terms, especially home security. From the alarms that are installed, to the possessions we are protecting, almost every element is tangible.
There is, however, one invaluable part of security that isn’t: mental health. Even when stolen goods are returned or replaced, and where no one was at risk of harm, it’s the psychological impact that takes the longest time to recover. One in eight victims of a burglary never recover emotionally from the incident.
It is easy to underestimate how crucial feelings of safety and security are to our mental well being. Next to the most basic physiological needs, such as food and sleep, safety is one of the most important needs we have as humans, it provides a foundation which we rely upon for emotional stability, sociability and success.
Understanding the relationship between home security and mental health, and the consequences of having either undermined, is crucial for ensuring both are protected.
The psychology strain of feeling unsafe at home
If you are only looking out for the physical signs of compromised safety, you may leave it too late. Well before anything actually happens, there are signs and behaviours which indicate that your home security system is not offering you sufficient peace of mind.
It’s not uncommon to be temporarily unnerved by a sound in the night, especially if you are home alone or in an unfamiliar environment. But if this becomes a regular occurrence which leaves you feeling tense for long periods of time, or disrupts your sleep then it is highly likely that your home security is not providing sufficient peace of mind or protection.
When anxieties begin to interfere with sleeping patterns on a nightly basis the risk of damaging emotional well being. Sleep, as numerous studies have shown, is deeply connected to mental health, and any disturbances can increase the risk of conditions such as depression.
There are of course elements of property safety that are outside of individual control. Residents of, for example, a block of flats anybody can gain access to their front door or take control of stairwells or corridors. People living in these types of accommodation may suffer an increased risk of anxiety, insomnia or depression.
Many buildings operate on entry systems. As Security 201 observe, these types of entry systems enable remote door control. This is good for disabled or elderly people who are at high risk of feeling unsafe.Lacking a feeling of total security in the home leaves a person without a place to fully relax and unwind. This can quickly become mentally and physically draining.
Perception of safety dictates independence
How safe we feel in our home is often largely dictated by surrounding area. In the year ending March 2015, 85.8% of men and 61.7% of women aged 16 and over in England and Wales reported that they felt fairly or very safe walking alone after dark.
Feeling unsafe can be disabling. Fear of leaving the house can grow intense, leading to loneliness and exacerbating emotional unease. Withdrawal is a symptom of mental illness, if your home security is affecting how you participate with others there is an issue.
How safe we feel in our homes can play a significant role in the way we interact with our friends and the local community. Without adequate security protection, homeowners can find leaving their home just as anxiety-inducing as staying inside. This can rapidly lead to a collapse in neighbourhood integration and involvement, leaving residents feeling even more secluded.
A study by The National Well-Being Programme earlier this year showed that strong communities “are more likely to deliver higher rates of social and civic participation… and improved physical and mental health among its inhabitants.”
In order to tap into these vital social support systems, homeowners must first make sure their homes, belongings and families are properly protected. Banham have made safety a priority for nearly a century, and we believe all homeowners should do the same.