According to a 2015 assessment conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 140,000 out of the 564,708 people that were homeless on a single night suffered from a mental illness.1 The relationship between homelessness and mental illness continues to be researched, with results often indicating a two-way relationship.
As a center for mental health care in Boca Raton, we understand the impact mental illness can have on a person’s life. Many individuals have lost their homes, relationships, and lives to untreated mental disorders. At our rehabilitation center, we provide safe and effective care for a variety of mental illnesses, so people in these situations don’t have to struggle with the aftermath of their condition.
The prevalence of mental illness among the homeless is not a new discovery. This has been an ongoing problem for decades, with mental disorders like major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders being the most common among the homeless population. The connection between mental health and homelessness could be considered a two-way relationship. A person’s mental illness could cause cognitive and behavioral changes that may affect their ability to work, pay the bills, and ultimately keep their home. On the other hand, there have also been cases of people developing a mental disorder after becoming homeless. Homelessness could be a traumatic event that can cause or worsen symptoms of mental illness. Whether the person has been homeless before and how long they were homeless can be linked to high levels of stress and poor mental health.
Substance abuse has also been linked to homelessness and mental illness. A person’s substance abuse can cause mental illness or worsen any preexisting mental disorders. The combination of homelessness and poor mental health can also cause someone to turn to drug or alcohol abuse, worsening their condition. A person who struggles from addiction and mental illness may require a co-occurring disorder treatment that addresses both conditions.
The list of contributing factors to homelessness and mental illness is endless. Most individuals who make up the homeless population have struggled with poverty and don’t know where or how to find mental health treatment. A lack of documentation and transportation can also contribute to their difficulties in finding care. There are also various stigmas and stereotypes surrounding both mental illness and homelessness, making recovery even more challenging for people in this kind of situation.