In 2006 it was estimated that 842,000 adults and children are homeless in any given week. Since 2006 that number has grown significantly and each day the number grows larger and larger of the number of people who are homeless. Many factors contribute to homelessness but a major factor of this problem is due to undiagnosed mental illness. 39% of the homeless population report some form of mental health problem. That means 328,380 people who are homeless have a mental illness that goes untreated. To understand how this problem of mentally ill people becoming homeless one must first understand what exactly a mental illness is and why things such as this can lead to homelessness.http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/homelessness/
To break down stereotypes, forget about what you know and how you feel about mental illnesses and understand that a mental illness does not make someone crazy. You cannot recognize someone with a mental illness just by how they look on the outside. A mental illness is defined by the National Alliance of Mental Illness as “medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.” While some mental illnesses are manageable others do need to be treated by a physician. These two widely known figures, Britney Spears and Kid Cudi both publicly deal with mental illnesses. Britney Spears was said to have had bi-polar disorder back in 2008 when her behavior became eradicate and it is still speculated on whether or not she has the condition based on her behavior. Kid Cudi or Scott Mescudi is a rapper whose entire first album “Man on the Moon” was a sequence into what depression feels like and how these stages affected his own personal life. Kid Cudi shined a light on this expression of emotion that people can empathize or understand what it is like. With celebrities bringing a face to mental illness someone has to wonder about how would a person like you or myself be able to see what a mental illness is when we cannot put a face to it.
There are four major categories to frame mental illness into, organic brain disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and psychotic disorders. Organic Brain Disorders include degenerative diseases such as Huningtons disease, Dementia, Parkinsons. These disorders are organic because they are involved in the natural process of aging. Cardiovascular disorders that involve with brain damage due to strokes. Trauma induced which include hemorrhage, brain injury or concussion. These are all unpreventable disorders that are included within mental illnesses that usually no one would consider when thinking about someone who is mentally ill.
We commonly recognize that people who have these disorders are mentally ill. These are mood and anxiety disorders that affect a person’s mood and change their behavior; if they go untreated they lead to greater problems. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in America, according to MentalHealthAmerica.com, “It affects more than 21 million American children and adults annually and is the leading cause of disability in the United States for individuals ages 15 to 44. “ MentalHealthAmerica.com also states, “Despite significant gains in the availability of effective depression treatment over the past decade, the level of unmet need for treatment remains high. On average, people living with depression go for nearly a decade before receiving treatment, and less than one-third of people who seek help receive minimally adequate care.”http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/state-ranking
Personality Disorders include three different clusters of behavior that differ from societal norms. The first cluster is odd unusual behavior, which includes a paranoid personality; a person feeling that everyone and everything is against them when in reality this is not true. The there is a schizoid personality in which a person is apathetic towards people and has no desire to socialize with others. The second cluster is dramatic or erratic behavior that includes antisocial personality that involves non-socialization with people, Borderline personality, which is a problem with erratic emotions and relating to people. Then there is Histrionic personality, which the person seeks attention and has unrealistic views of relationships with others and narcissistic personality that we associate with a self-centered person. This cluster usually does not contribute to a major factor of mental illness, but is filed under a category of mental illness. Finally the last cluster is that of anxious/fearful personalities that often are hyper sensitive, dependent of obsessive-compulsive disorders.
The fourth category and probably the most severe and the one that affects the homeless the most. Schizophrenia, this consists of delusions and hallucinations that are for prolonged periods of time and if left untreated, only get worse. Schizoaffective disorder, these people not only have schizophrenia but other disorders as well, such as bi-polar disorder or other disorders. Delusional disorder, people have delusions that are prolonged and are strange thoughts such as being followed similar to paranoia, thinking others are ganging up against them. These psychotic disorders are the most severe out of a mental illness you could possibly have, yet someone who is treated for this disorder can live a normal life just as they did before the mental illness occurred. Though this is possible with every single mental illness that is known to man, why is it that people still end up suffering from them? What do people do that they inherit these mental illnesses? We will explore how a mental illness occurs and why is it that people suffer from them.
So we understand that mental illness does not have one face, we understand the four major categories of mental illness, now we are wondering when exactly does a mental illness occur. According to a National Alliance of Mental Illness fact sheet, one- half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begins by age 14, three quarters by age 24. In the age range between adolescene and adult hood is when mental illness starts showing symptoms. The NAMI website provides information about who is susceptible to a mental illness, “Mental illness usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.
So we understand that mental illness does not have one face, we understand the four major categories of mental illness, now we are wondering when exactly does a mental illness occur. According to a National Alliance of Mental Illness fact sheet, one- half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begins by age 14, three quarters by age 24. In the age range between adolescence and adult hood is when mental illness starts showing symptoms. The NAMI website provides information about who is susceptible to a mental illness, “Mental illness usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.” Though modern medicine has come a long way and acceptance of issues such as mental illness has had some light shed on it there is still that sense of taboo about mental illness. With symptoms starting to show in the prime of a person’s life, it is easy to say that “it’s just a phase” or that you can get over it. Truth is a mental illness is a serious medical condition that needs treatment and no amount of will power or ignorance will suddenly make it go away. Yet, fewer than a third of adults and half of children with diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment within a given year. Out of the 5.2 million adults in the United States that suffer from a mental illness, fewer than a third of that number seek help for the mental illness. The numbers are so low on people who seek help because of the stigma that still surrounds mental illness that resonates with people that the mentally ill are “crazy”. “Crazy” is a awful thing to call someone who is mentally ill, people don’t remember that people with mental illnesses were once just like you and it’s just a speed bump in life. According to Gordon (insert last name here),” the common misconception is that people with mental illness are no longer capable of functioning in everyday society, that is not true at all, the intelligence is still intact.” Though some people are speaking out against the stigma behind mental illness as this excerpt from a New York Times article entitled, ‘Mad Pride Fights Stigma’, “Until now, the acceptance of mental illness has pretty much stopped at depression,” said Charles Barber, a lecturer in psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. “But a newer generation, fueled by the Internet and other sophisticated delivery systems, is saying, ‘We deserve to be heard, too.’ “ “About 5.7 million Americans over 18 have bipolar disorder, which is classified as a mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Another 2.4 million have schizophrenia, which is considered a thought disorder. The small slice of this disparate population who have chosen to share their experiences with the public liken their efforts to those of the gay-rights and similar movements of a generation ago.” This article is about different people vocalizing their struggles with mental illness and how stigma has affected their lives. Mad Pride is an alliance that works towards breaking down the stigma and stereotypes of mental illness and encourages people to not be ashamed of having a mental illness. “It used to be you were labeled with your diagnosis and that was it; you were marginalized,” said Molly Sprengelmeyer, an organizer for the Asheville Radical Mental Health Collective, a mad pride group in North Carolina. “If people found out, it was a death sentence, professionally and socially.”She added, “We are hoping to change all that by talking.” Many things are being done to break down the stigma so that people may get help, but you have to wonder, what happens if you cannot get help or you won’t get help?http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/11/fashion/11madpride.html?_r=1&ref=style&pagewanted=all
30% of homeless population suffers from mental illnesses. Though there are other factors that contribute towards homelessness such as poverty rate, although, “People with disabilities who are unable to work and must rely on entitlements such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can find it virtually impossible to find affordable housing. In 2000, the federal SSI benefit was $512 per month, which would not cover the cost of an efficiency or one-bedroom apartment in any major housing market in the country.” A disability that involves people being unable to work can also contribute to homelessness and mental illness. If someone is disabled from working because of medication they are on currently, how can they afford to live if disability does not offer enough money to live? This then causes someone to choose medicine or housing, though getting off disability is easy, getting off medication is dangerous and puts those people in the situations where they become homeless. According to Mental Health SAMSA an underlying causes of homelessness correlate to, “Untreated mental illness can cause individuals to become paranoid, anxious, or depressed, making it difficult or impossible to maintain employment, pay bills, or keep supportive social relationships.” “Individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are among the most difficult groups to put in stable housing and treat. This is due to the limited availability of integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment in most locations.” With this co-occurring mental health and substance abuse use, “An estimated 5.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. Of adults using homeless services, 31 percent reported having combination of these conditions.” These people are still human beings and often people forget that these people are no lesser than anyone else because they are homeless or have a mental illness; there are reasons behind why so many people with mental illnesses are homeless.http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/homelessness/http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/homelessness/ Burt, M.(2001).“Whatwill it take to end homelessness?” Urban Institute: Washington, D.C.,p.3. Available at www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/end_homelessness.pdf.
The question your probably asking is why? Why in the great country of America are people with mental illnesses allowed to become homeless? The answer is not as simple as the question. Going back to the disability statement made earlier about individuals who cannot live off disability alone, when they lose their homes, the thought becomes to survive, not to take care of oneself mentally. When they become homeless, their basic needs are barely or not even being met and symptoms will go untreated. Though there are benefits available, most homeless people do not carry identification or a social security card and in order to receive benefits, a person needs a social security card. In order to receive one, a person must provide two forms of identification along with U.S. Citizenship status. Most of these people no longer have any forms of identification and the many hoops they must jump through make it almost impossible for someone to do when the focus at the moment is survival. There is also the fact that 50% of the homeless population has a co-occurring mental illness along with a substance use disorder. Many people who are homeless and mentally ill have entered the mental health system at one point and either had a negative experience or treatments that were given did not help. Once people leave the hospital and are homeless, they give up on trying to get help with connection to this bad experience. There is no social support for the homeless; these are people who have lost contact with family therefore there is no push to get help. There is a solution coming to Austin Texas for this problem of re-occurrence and helping the mentally ill stay off the streets of Austin. http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/homelessness/
The Austin chapter of NAMI will implement the Austin Clubhouse. The Austin Clubhouse is a program where people who are mentally ill can go to receive support and gain the skills needed to reintroduce them back into society and find jobs. The Clubhouse will be the only facility in Austin available to provide long-term care, mentally and physically for those with mental illness. In its present form, the mental health system is able to stabilize clients but is unable to provide the ongoing structure and support necessary for maintaining hard-fought stability, leading to an eventual crisis and relapse. Partnered with Seton hospitals and other businesses around Austin, the Clubhouse will implement members from the Clubhouse into the network of systems of businesses to keep a steady job, thus preventing the possibility of homelessness. What the Clubhouse will do is allow members to work within the facility to gain the experience and gain a sense of community to provide support for themselves and others. With this experience and social experience, it will help provide people who do not have jobs because of their mental illness ways to cope with it and be able to keep a job through skill and confidence building. With the skills and confidence, members will gain success as a result of the support and extensive programs available to them through this program. As of now the Austin Clubhouse is projected in late 2010 and spearheading the project of the Austin Clubhouse is Gordon F. Butler, whom is in talks about a location and allocating resources to provide for the opening of the Austin Clubhouse. The success rate of the Austin Clubhouse will be based on member employment rates. The goal is to get 5 members employed within the first year, more if possible. The Austin Clubhouse is just one step in the right direction towards solving the problem of the mentally ill becoming homeless. With more steps implemented by the community, change is foreseen.
Now that you have seen that mental illness does not have a face, you have broken down your own stereotypes of mental illness to truly understand that these people are still human beings still functional in our society. You have seen a couple of the steps that lead towards homelessness and you have seen the future to help solve the problem, change is imminent through education. If people take the time to educate themselves on important matters such as these, the problem would no longer be a problem; you can be a part of the solution.
How does a Mental Illness Occur?<br />One-half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, three-quarters by age 24 . <br />Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year.<br />Kessler,R.,Berglund,P.,Demler,O.,Jin,R.,Merikangas,&Walters,e.,Lifetimeprevalenceandage-of-onsetdistributionsofDSM-IVdisordersintheNationalCo-morbiditySurveyReplication (NCSR).GeneralPsychiatr y,62,June2005,593-602.<br />U.S.DepartmentofHealthandHumanServices.MentalHealth:AReportoftheSurgeonGeneral.Rockville,Md.,U.S.DepartmentofHealthandHumanServices,SubstanceAbuseandMental HealthServicesAdministration,CenterforMentalHealthServices,1999,pp.408409,411. <br />
Homelessness and Mental Illness<br />30% of the homeless population suffer from a mental illness.<br />“Untreated mental illness can cause individuals to become paranoid, anxious, or depressed, making it difficult or impossible to maintain employment, pay bills, or keep supportive social relationships.” “Individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are among the most difficult groups to put in stable housing and treat. This is due to the limited availability of integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment in most locations. “http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/homelessness/<br />"The rate of mental disorders among homeless people is useful information for advocacy and for monitoring policy and practice change in a community.”http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201233443.htm<br />
Why are the mentally ill homeless?<br />Unclaimed benefits, need for identification<br />“Up to 50 percent have co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders”<br />“The majority of people with serious mental illnesses who are homeless had prior contact with the mental health system, either as an inpatient or outpatient. These experiences were not always positive; they may have been hospitalized involuntarily or given treatment services or medications that did not benefit them.”<br />“The social support and family networks of these individuals usually have unraveled. Those who are members of families often have lost regular contact with their relatives or are no longer equipped to be primary caregivers.”<br />http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/homelessness/<br />
The Austin Clubhouse<br />The Austin Clubhouse is a program where people who are mentally ill can go to receive support and gain the skills needed to reintroduce them back into society and find jobs.<br />Creates positive environment for the members and will give members opportunities to succeed. <br />Projected launch in late 2010<br />
Change is Possible<br />http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee230/tjcullen1/i-want-change.jpg<br />