Homelessness and The Effects of Mental Health

Homelessness is a very traumatizing event that an individual may experience. Nowadays, the odds of someone facing some sort of mental illness are not uncommon. When one isn’t homeless, they are better equipped to seek help  in order  to help themselves. But do mental illness and homelessness correlate or affect the other?

The relationship between homelessness and mental illness is quite strong. When an individual is facing homelessness, they are going through certain daily challenges that someone with a stable income might not be; the struggle to find food, shelter, etc. Mental illness impacts individuals’ lives by making it harder to have the opportunity for stable income. 

There seems to be a stigma of most individuals experiencing homelessness having substance abuse issues. But did you know that substance abuse can sometimes stem from being homeless with mental illness? The chances of an individual suffering from mental health issues increases without housing. Without having the opportunity that some have to seek help, the odds increase of them turning to drugs to cope with the disorders they may face. 

Some disorders that the homeless population face include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, substance abuse, etc. The percentage of mentally ill individuals that are homeless is increasing. Mental Illness Policy touches upon how in 2001, around 5,000 homeless individuals were fighting their struggles with mental illness every day. 

When unhoused, it is hard to find places to turn to in order to receive help. This goes for lots of necessities that will be needed to survive. The Treatment Advocacy Center states, “In major cities from New York to San Diego, homeless people with severe mental illness are now an accepted part of the urban landscape and make up a significant percentage of the homeless.” 

As the homeless population’s cycle of substance abuse increases, people aren’t likely to help. Mental health plays a big role in how an individual will deal with homelessness or affect the odds of them becoming homeless. 

Mental illness makes it harder for any individual to complete tasks or accomplish goals. When fighting depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, it can be hard to get yourself out of bed, let alone get up and go to work. This is where it is difficult to maintain a job or stable income. This can start the cycle of struggling with finances. 

Many individuals also don’t seem to know that mental health can affect someone’s physical health. Mental health is like a domino effect. When an individual doesn’t take care of it or treat it, it’s hard to find stability. 

The National Coalition for the Homeless states, “20-25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness.” Individuals that face mental illness every day are more likely to become homeless than the average person. 

The resources to help mental illness are inaccessible for those experiencing homelessness  and are not as helpful as they could be. If there was better mental health aid, it could decrease the homeless population or the odds of someone becoming homeless. This would benefit the homeless population overall and help to make a positive difference when it comes to mental health as well. 


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