Study Helps Get Homeless with Mental Health Issues Off the Streets

Experiencing a mental health concern, even one that’s manageable most days and only occasionally disruptive or entirely debilitating, can be a remarkable challenge in its own right. But addressing such concerns while being subjected to the unique demands and stresses of homelessness is a prospect that many find themselves unable to successfully tackle. With little to no access to medication, psychotherapy, or other mental health services, homeless people who experience mental health concerns may face a spiral of limitations and lack of opportunities that can keep them in difficult situations for years, if not a lifetime. Recently, a program based in New York City showed some success in developing social assistance programs focusing on providing housing first, and then worked with mental health issues. Based on this fundamental concept, a study in Canada funded by the government has recruited more than 2,000 homeless people with mental health concerns, and will work with them over a period of four years to establish precisely which types of programs and assistance structures are most fruitful.

While some social programs exist to help homeless people secure counseling or other types of services, proponents of the study as well as homeless people themselves note that conducting serious, concentrated work on mental health issues without the security or stability of a place to live is needlessly difficult, and leads to feelings of failure and futility. The Canadian study, which has just begun and is already garnering a fair share of media attention, hopes to show that when the homeless are served with their most basic needs, such as shelter, first, they can enjoy a higher rate of success with mental health treatment.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Denzel

    Denzel

    November 26th, 2009 at 12:05 PM

    It is difficult for even affluent people, then we can only imagine how hard it must be for people who have no access to it. There should be more and more programs assisting such people in getting mental health care facilities at a subsidized cost and also follow-up procedures must be followed to check if they are alright.

  • cade

    cade

    November 26th, 2009 at 12:10 PM

    Citizens’ involvement in such programs run by various agencies would be successful according to me, because they would readily show concern for such homeless people and try to improve their quality of life. it is best to do whatever we can in our own right rather than to blame the government for not doing enough!

  • stash

    stash

    November 26th, 2009 at 3:26 PM

    I think it is a great thing to be doing by helping those homeless people avail health services as they are quite the neglected lot by and large…

  • Wellescent Health Blog

    Wellescent Health Blog

    November 26th, 2009 at 6:53 PM

    Any help that can be provided to the homeless in dealing with mental health issues can be considered an investment in preventative medicine given the numbers of homeless people who end up in the intensive care units of our hospitals. If efforts even slightly reduce the numbers of homeless who end up in these highly expensive care facilities, the overall costs of care are reduced for all of us.

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