Homelessness and mental health issues: A vicious cycle

Homelessness and mental health problems share a complex, interrelated relation. Homelessness is a major risk factor for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Similarly, mental health conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, or others can lead to social exclusion and homelessness. According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, about 250000 or 45% of homeless people have at least one mental health illness.

How can homelessness exacerbate mental health issues?

Homelessness can negatively affect individuals’ mental health as it yields many factors that can produce or worsen the mental health condition. Following are the main factors:

  1. Social exclusion as homeless people often experiences inferiority complex and distortion of the social fabric.
  2. Financial incapability resulting in an inability to cope with mental health issues.
  3. Lack of support from the family, which is one of the essential elements to preserve and promote mental health.
  4. Substance abuse addiction because homelessness leads to depression, anxiety, and stress that may increase substance abuse and alcoholism.

How mental health issues cause homelessness?

Many mental health conditions can directly or indirectly cause homelessness, mainly because society considers mental health conditions stigma or vulnerability. Affective disorders including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, global dementia, and substance abuse disorders can potentially become the main factors behind homelessness. Moreover, associated social factors such as poverty, lack of communication, and inability to perform daily living activities worsen the situation.

In short, a never-ending loop exists between homelessness and mental health issues. Unless we try to break it, it will drift towards the worse and worse situation.

What can we do to cope with the situation?

The current homelessness and mental health situation compel us to take preventive and remedial measures to preserve mental health. Following measures can be adopted for this purpose:

  1. Housing solutions:

Different housing models can be devised to cope with mental health issues and homelessness simultaneously. These may include affordable and convenient housing solutions for individuals having mental health issues. Some of these solutions are:

  • Supervised Living
  • Assisted living
  • Peer houses
  • Supported home living
  • Host-Home/ Companion care
  1. Supported employment programs:

Supported employment services refer to the provisions under which patients with intellectual disabilities, mental health problems, or substance abuse issues are actively assisted in obtaining and maintaining employment. Consequently, the vicious cycle breaks due to the social integration of homeless people.

  1. Recover management and rehabilitation services:

The main focus in mental health care should be the recovery phase and rehabilitation services because it results in less relapse of symptoms and decrease chances of failure rates. Rehabilitation services should be organized to provide long-term mental health support.

  1. Street mental health initiatives:

A significant increase in mental health issues in homeless people compels them to devise policies that can provide mental health support and services at the street level. These may include emergency mental health response teams, on-street psychiatric evaluation teams, and street awareness programs.

“Why are people homeless? Because those who are at homes don’t care about them.” 


Contact us:

We provide special services for homeless people such as supervised living, assisted living, and psychosocial rehabilitation services to preserve and promote mental health in homeless people. Our mental health professionals working in these services are well-trained and educated to manage the mental health issues in homeless people.

Should you need any assistance, feel free to contact us anytime.