Mental Health and the Need For Safe, Secure Housing

Stability and consistent care are impossible to achieve if you are homeless. Then add the mental Illness component, and it becomes a vicious circle. Numerous studies report that 1/3 of homeless persons struggle with serious mental illness, which is also one of the top 3 causes of homelessness (via the National Coalition on Homelessness). Some people who suffer from poor mental health lack the ability to sustain employment leaving them with little to no income. It impairs their resourcefulness and resiliency to cope with traumas. Additionally, serious mental illness can also cause self-isolation from friends, family, and other support, putting them at greater risk of becoming homeless.

Even for people without mental health illnesses, living in shelters and on the streets can be challenging and traumatizing.  

Living in overcrowded, noisy, unsafe housing leads to stress, anxiety, social phobia, sleep issues, depression, and loneliness, which then heightens mental health problems and/or substance use, further exacerbating housing struggles.  The increase of mental health problems creates difficulties in keeping on top of bills, housekeeping, working, staying on tasks and routines. Stress can break down relationships with family, landlords, housing authorities, and friends. All of these factors make individuals with serious mental illness extremely vulnerable to homelessness and make it harder to support them once they become homeless.   Without mental health treatment and related support services, mentally-ill homeless persons face additional challenges gaining access to stable permanent housing.

“In general, 30-35% of those experiencing homelessness, and up to 75% of women experiencing homelessness, have mental illnesses. 20-25% of people experiencing homelessness suffer from concurrent disorders (severe mental illness and addictions).”

The needs of people experiencing homelessness with mental illnesses are similar to those without mental illnesses: physical safety, education, transportation, affordable housing, and affordable medical/dental treatment.

When providing care to those experiencing homelessness, it is essential to create a non-threatening and supportive atmosphere, address basic needs (e.g. food and shelter), and provide accessible care.  With access to connected services, it’s hopeful those suffering from a mental health disorder can live as independently as possible.

Good, quality, affordable and safe housing is vital for our mental health.  Feeling happy and safe in the place you live is HOME

SAMSHA Homelessness and Mental Health
Homeless Hub
New Horizon’s Behavioral Health

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