“It’s about Living Like Everyone Else”: Dichotomies of Housing Support in Swedish Mental Health Care

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

“It’s about Living Like Everyone Else”: Dichotomies of Housing Support in Swedish Mental Health Care


  • Ulrika Börjesson Department of Social Work, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, Sweden / Research and Local Development, Region Jönköping County, Sweden / Jönköping Municipality, Sweden
  • Mikael Skillmark Department of Social Work, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, Sweden
  • Pia H. Bülow Department of Social Work, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, Sweden / Department of Social Work, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Per Bülow Department of Social Work, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, Sweden / Psychiatric Clinic, Ryhov County Hospital in Jönköping, Sweden
  • Mattias Vejklint Psychiatry, Substances Abuse and Disabilities, Research and Local Development, Region Jönköping County, Sweden
  • Monika Wilińska Department of Social Work, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, Sweden


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Abstract:  The deinstitutionalization of psychiatric care has not only altered the living conditions for people with severe mental illness but has also greatly affected social services staff. In the Mental Health Act launched by the Swedish government in 1995, a new kind of service called ‘housing support’ and a new occupational group, ‘housing support workers,’ was introduced. However, housing support does not currently operate under any specific guidelines regarding the content of the service. This study explores housing support at local level in various municipalities of one Swedish county. The data is based on discussion with three focus groups: care managers, managers for home and community‐based support, and housing supporter workers. The perspective of institutional logics as a specific set of frames that creates a standard for what should or could be done, or alternately what cannot be questioned, is applied to analyze the constructed meaning of housing support. The meaning of housing support is constructed through three dichotomies: process and product, independence and dependence, and flexibility and structure. These dichotomies can be understood as dilemmas inherent in the work and organizing of housing support. With no clear guidelines, the levels of organizational and professional discretion create a space for local flexibility but may also contribute to tremendous differences in defining and implementing housing support. We discuss the potential consequences for housing support users implied by the identified discrepancies.

Keywords:  focus groups; housing support; institutional logics; welfare work

Published:   26 August 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i3.4314


© Ulrika Börjesson, Mikael Skillmark, Pia H. Bülow, Per Bülow, Mattias Vejklint, Monika Wilińska. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.