Mental Illness and Homeless Individuals

homeless peopleAccording to the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), better than 20% of the homeless people in the U.S. endure one or another serious mental condition. Yet in the nation as a whole, only 6% of the people are considered severely mentally impaired.

In a 2009 government survey of 25 cities, mental illness was listed as the third largest cause for single adults being homelessness. 12% of the cities identified mental illness as one of the top three causes for homeless families.

Helping the Impossible Patient

According to NCH reports, mental illness often prevents a homeless person from forming or maintaining a stable relationship. Part of the problem streams from a lack of understanding by untroubled people – even family members, including you. When your father or mother or daughter or son resists the efforts of caregivers, rejects your support and developments a moment-to-moment lifestyle, anger may become your typical response to every encounter with that person. And it hinders your ability to help.

Homeless people often neglect the basic hygiene practices that help ward off physical complications such as respiratory infections, skin diseases and even life-threatening exposure to harsh weather. They may even use street drugs for self-medication. Smokers share smokes with homeless friends. Tuberculosis waits in the breeze.

Their poor work habits are frustrating to you and maybe even to them. Sometimes they don’t even attempt to obtain employment. The costs of trying to help can be overwhelming. Sometimes you just want to throw up your hands and quit.

Resources Now and More in the Making

When approached correctly, many mentally ill homeless people are willing to receive professional treatment and services. Authorities are working to help improve coordination between existing mental health service providers and homeless shelters. The future is looking better.

For current solutions, get your loved one lined up with an outreach program with workers who strive to establish a relationship of trust through continued contact. According to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), supported housing provides an effective solution for the homeless mentally ill. Here’s a sample of the services:

  • Advanced life management training
  • Employment opportunities
  • Educational tools
  • Flexible treatment options
  • Ongoing access to treatment resources
  • Peer support
  • Physical health care
  • And More.

Your homeless friend or relative can achieve residential stability. Access to support housing programs work. For the sake of your own sanity, check it out.

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