Currently, homelessness and mental health disorders are two serious public health concerns in the United States. Unfortunately, homelessness and mental health issues often occur simultaneously, and homelessness can worsen the mental health concerns.
Let’s talk about homelessness, the relationship between homelessness and mental health, and where you can go in Richmond, VA, for world-class mental health care.
What Is Homelessness?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, homelessness refers to when someone has no place to live or permanent location that can support all their basic needs, like food, water, clothing, and shelter. There are three types of homelessness based on the length of time someone is experiencing homelessness:
- Transitional homelessness, which lasts less than a year and includes people who have recently left prison or jail.
- Episodic homelessness is when someone enters and leaves homelessness every few weeks or months, and they have unstable housing.
- Chronic homelessness is someone who does not have a home for over a year and also struggles with a condition like a physical disability or a serious mental illness (SMI).
Statistics show that almost 600,000 people experience homelessness every night and up to 3.5 million people over the course of a year.
Mental Health Issues Commonly Precede Homelessness
According to Psychiatric Times, about two-thirds experiencing homelessness had mental illness first before becoming homeless, and the most common mental illnesses included drug and alcohol abuse disorders.
Additionally, mental illness and childhood trauma are the risk factors for homelessness. Other common backgrounds seen in individuals experiencing homelessness include low education and poverty, both of which can impact mental health and decrease access to mental health resources.
Homelessness Makes Mental Health Worse
There is a high prevalence of suicide among homeless individuals with mental illness, indicating that their mental illness and the barriers to treatment and housing solutions can be blamed for high suicide rates.
While it is beneficial that many programs provide basic needs to people experiencing homelessness, such as food, shelter, and water, very few programs focus on addressing mental disorders. Even at the programs that do provide mental health services, it can be challenging for homeless individuals to access these services as most of them do not have steady sources of income or reliable forms of transportation. Therefore, homelessness itself decreases access to mental health services, making mental health worsen.
Mental Health Therapist in Richmond, VA
In summary, homelessness and mental health are interrelated and affect each other. At Epic Health Partners, we offer community stabilization services, i.e., comprehensive mental health services for individuals qualifying the following requirements:
- Virginia Medicaid eligible
- Experienced a behavioral crisis in the last 72 hours
- The ability to function in family, school, social, living situation, work, or community settings will be negatively affected if their mental health needs are not addressed.
Our licensed professional counsellors are always ready to help patients in need. If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental illness, homelessness, or both, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us by calling at (434) 835-4601 or going online to request an appointment here.