What is the relation between homelessness and mental illness? One of the biggest problems in most of the countries nowadays is the growing problem of homelessness. We can witness this problem firsthand since there are many people and families who just live in the parks and streets in our cities.
A more troubling fact is that out of the many homeless people who drift in our streets, about 40 % to 45 % of these homeless people are suffering from a serious mental condition. Most of the mentally ill people who were never able to get the much needed treatment to control if not treat their mental disorders are unable to continue working and from this, are unable to pay for their needs such as shelter. This is where homelessness and mental illness meet each other.
Do not be surprised; there are approximately 3.5 million Americans who become homeless in a year. This means that in the United States, 1 % of the entire population experiences homelessness. Additionally, 40 % of the people who are homeless are children. Although the exact number of homeless Americans is pretty difficult to pinpoint, this is more or less the closest approximation or estimate we can have. This is for the reason that most of the homeless people have different definitions for being 'homeless.' We should also understand that being homeless in not a permanent condition. One can always find a way to get out of that situation.
A sad fact that people should understand is that these homeless people suffer from very high rates of mental health problems which are worsened by living in the streets or in temporary shelters. The link between homelessness and mental illness is very strong. In fact, there are 40 % up to 50 % of homeless people who are mentally ill at the same time.
Most of these homeless people suffer from the mental disorder categorized in Axis I such as bipolar disorder, depression, schizoaffective disorder, anxiety disorders, severe personality disorders, and schizophrenia.
A horrible truth that people should recognize is that there are more homeless people suffering from severe mental disorders than those people who are receiving treatment and care in hospitals. Another factor that increases the likelihood of homeless people to develop a mental disorder is because substance abuse is predominant among the homeless sector. Homeless people engage in alcohol abuse and even drug addiction at some point in their life.
Keep in mind that not having a permanent home is bound to make a person susceptible to developing mental health conditions. What's worse is that living in the streets, park, or temporary shelters worsens their mental condition. Remember that the main reason why there are a lot of homeless and mentally ill people is because their mental condition brought them to their living situation. It may be because they did not receive enough support, inability to keep their jobs, and their incapacity to pay for their expenses that led them to becoming homeless.