Mental Illness or… Social Illness
We’ve all had this experience. You're packing away your groceries in the car trying to leave before the rain comes down. Then a man in tattered clothes approaches you and mentally you brace yourself. You don't want him touching you or communicating with you in any type of way. So when he begins spewing out his words of nonsense you shake your head and drive off before he could get any closer. Minutes later that individual fades from your mind and gets dropped in the box as just another ‘homeless crazy guy.’
These experiences are the norm in society. As people of the 21st century, an encounter like this is bound to happen. It's so normal that the sympathy is erased and there is a lack of curiosity when it comes to wanting to find out how homelessness affects the mental state and or how the mental state effects homelessness.
‘Researchers,’ pinpoint that the majority of the homeless population was created from the closing of mental hospitals. These facilities would be closed and their patients would not have a replacement treatment. With the proper treatment those with mental illness have an opportunity to live normally. When these treatments are taken away and the patients are abandoned, the conditions can only get worse. Many have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Leaving these conditions unattended could lead to obesity, smoking, diabetes and cardiovascular death.
The cognitive symptoms could be:
-Loss of attention
-Difficulty with understanding the main idea
-Trouble with abstraction
The homeless not receiving any real treatment is a norm. It is why their mental illnesses are more likely to escalate. Studies show that approximately 3.5 million Americans become homeless each year. Two-thirds of that population is likely to get some sort of anxiety and depression which leads to suicide and incarceration.
When one has a mental disability it becomes difficult to function in the everyday life so they end up falling into the worst possible situations of jail and death.
There are people in the homeless community who enter the life of an outcast mentally intact; meaning they are mentally stable and became homeless because of a harsh predicament. They experience the same stress of anxiety and depression but their biggest disability is social. When living in a world where one another is struggling to find food, shelter, and drugs, even the healthiest brain begins to deteriorate. Suddenly, the clear minded person becomes unsteady especially if there is no family to reel them back in. The neglect of the outside world kills their spirit and they are subdued to the lifestyle of the impoverished. Jean-Pierre Bonin, a Canadian journalist, writes that in Canada 200,000 people each year are documented as homeless a number that is underestimated considering that people who are homeless call the help of a family member or friend. Which means the assistance from the people who care about them is crucial during their time of difficulty. The ones who enter into the shelter for whatever reason do not have that and that’s the real cause of severe mental illness.
The homeless wander through the streets most of the time as ghosts, not having any real connection with the public being looked at and avoided. They lose the joy of connecting with another human being, and fellowship. As cliché and strange as it sounds, if we really want to combat homelessness and mental illness we have to start loving and stop ignoring the people who need us the most.
Bonin, Jean-Pierre, et al. “Identifying Quality of Life Measures That Correlate With Quality of
Family Relationships Measures in Homeless Persons With Mental Illness: Venues for Exiting Homelessness?” Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, vol. 36, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 97–110.
Draine, Jeffrey, et al. “Role of Social Disadvantage in Crime, Joblessness, and Homelessness
Among Persons With Serious Mental Illness.” Psychiatric Services, vol. 53, no. 5, May 2002, pp. 565–573.
Somers, Julian M., et al. “Changes in Daily Substance Use among People Experiencing
Homelessness and Mental Illness: 24-Month Outcomes Following Randomization to Housing First or Usual Care.” Addiction, vol. 110, no. 10, Oct. 2015, pp. 1605–1614.
“The National Coalition for the Homeless.” National Coalition for the Homeless,
http://nationalhomeless.org/. Accessed 30 June 2017.