Mental Health and Homelessness


In 2009, The National Coalition for the Homeless reported that serious mental illness can obstruct one’s ability to perform essential functions of everyday life including self care and household management. Between twenty and twenty-five percent of the homeless population suffers from some form of serious mental illness and it can lead to irrational behavior which prevents them from cultivating stable relationships with others (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009). As a result, they often push away family, friends, and caregivers who may play an important role in keeping them from becoming homeless (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009).

The American Psychological Association (APA) reported that although mental illness alone does not seem to be a large enough risk factor, its symptoms contribute to a person’s vulnerability for homelessness and may be intensified by the experience of it (2009). Lack of resources along with inadequate and outdated mental health services creates more barrios for these persons because they are not able to get the help they need, or do not have sufficient access to it (American Psychological Association, 2009).

According to the APA, there is a higher rate of mental illness among homeless women than homeless men (2009). Forty-seven percent of homeless women fit the standard for being diagnosed with a major depressive disorder; this is twice the amount of women in the general population (American Psychological Association, 2009). Homelessness is often associated with victimization and homeless women are at particular risk for it (American Psychological Association, 2009). Because of their experiences with violence, as much as thirty-nine percent of homeless women experience PTSD (American Psychological Association, 2009).

Homeless youths experience problems with mental illness as well. This includes mood disorders, suicide attempts, and PTSD (American Psychological Association, 2009). Eighty-two percent of fourteen to twenty-five-year-old homeless youths reported psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety; forty-three percent reported attempting suicide (American Psychological Association, 2009). Homeless youths who recognize a need for mental help may lack information on where to go or what help to seek further intensifying the problem (American Psychological Association, 2009).

Mental health problems affect many of our nation's homeless. Many homeless men, women, and youths suffer from some form of mental illness. Lack of access to mental health services can further magnify the problem making it more difficult to find a stable home. T’s 4 Hope is dedicated to bringing awareness to this issue and others that surround the problem of homelessness. We are always looking for donations and volunteers to help through writing, art, or in any other way. If you are interested, please contact us at Ts4Hope@yahoo.com or 954-867-6765.

References:

American Psychological Association. (2009).

National Coalition for the Homeless. (2009).

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