Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homelessness and Mental Illness

Many homeless men and women are living with a mental illness.  The illnesses vary from bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, as well as others. About 25% of the homeless community suffers from a mental illness. Mental illness is one of the top three reasons why people become homeless.  Those who are homeless, live in bad conditions which affect their state of mind, body, and people around them.

In local and national cities, people have witnessed homeless men and women acting strange, talking to themselves, or imagining things.  In many cases, those acting strange are a result of being homeless with a mental illness.  Considering that they are homeless, it is difficult to get proper medication or care for themselves in order to continue with life’s daily tasks.  There are services offered to the homeless which include: temporary housing, mental health treatment, and physical health treatment. Lack of funding is an unfortunate barrier for the treatment to be successful.  According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are programs such as: Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness which help the homeless population with a mental illness.   

The funding and treatment for those with a mental illness should be consistent.  In cases where the treatment is not consistent, the illness can get worse.  It is hard to imagine how difficult living on the streets may be, with limited resources, and a mental illness.  Without the resources, other aspects of life such as relationships and motivation can be affected.   

Besides being mentally ill, the physical conditions of homelessness affect ones body.  The lack of personal hygiene can lead to skin diseases.  Skin diseases can be painful, especially while dealing with a mental illness.  The pain of dealing with a illness can lead to drugs such as: crack, heroin, and crystal meth.  The symptoms of drugs, along with mental illness, negatively affect the hope a person living with homelessness may have.  It is important to improve the resources for those who are homeless and living with a mental illness.      

When all of the factors are considered, those living with a mental illness self medicate in order to cope with their living conditions.  The self medication is also a result of not having money or access to prescription medications specific to their illness. The illicit street drugs and the mental illness combined will result in harmful long term effects.    


National Coalition for the Homeless. 2009, Mental Illness and Homelessness. Retrieved from

U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2012, Homeless Health Concerns. Retrieved from 


  1. When there is a budget crunch, usually the homeless are the ones left out. My work donates quite a bit of money to our local loaves and fishes. It is tough to rely on private donations from a community who might view the homeless as lazy drug users and not think of the mental illness that may be causing it.

  2. it becomes ridiculously hard to sustain the people that nobody really cares about and it sucks. so much of society blames those on the streets without really knowing their circumstances