Mental illnesses are defined as a wide array of conditions that affect the mental health of an individual. Such disorders affect a person's thinking, mood, and general behavior. Globally, the most common mental illnesses include schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, stress, and other addictive disorders. According to Folsom (2005), most people experience mental illnesses at some point in their lives. However, a mental health issue becomes a major concern when following signs and symptoms lead to daily stress and affect normal body functioning. Socially, mental illnesses may have adverse effects on the concerned individuals. Such results extend to their relationships, school, and occupational environments. Mental illnesses can be characterized based on the following signs and symptoms; sadness, confusion, excessive fear, drugs and substance abuse, hostility, and being suicidal. It should, however, be noted that mental illnesses can easily be managed through appropriate psychotherapy and medications. It is evident that majority of mental illnesses cannot improve on their own and thus if untreated, it may worsen over time and result to more serious problems. For there to be effective management of the mental illnesses, a baseline of their cause should first be established. Different people around the world hold different beliefs on the cause of mental illnesses. In some areas, they are associated with sociocultural aspects, while others link them with normal life stress. However, according to Biology, mental illnesses are related to genetics, environmental exposures before the birth of a child, and also disrupted brain chemistry. Mental illnesses are most common among individuals whose relatives also have mental illnesses. More specifically, mental illnesses affect neurotransmitters in the brain whereby the standard functioning of the nerve receptors and nervous system changes, causing depression.
According to the Administration of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, 25% of people who are homeless in the United States of America suffer from at least one mental illness. Mental illnesses are ranked as the third largest cause of homelessness in the United States of America especially among adults from 18- 40 years of age. Several types of research conducted among multiple families in the United States of America reveal that mental illnesses significantly contribute to the increasing numbers of homeless persons. It is evident that mental illnesses have a correlation with being homeless in many communities. Notably, mental illnesses disrupt an individual's capability to carry out essential aspects of their daily life duties. Such duties include; management of their households and personal care. Similarly, mental illnesses may result to a person having unstable relationships or lead people to understand them as being irrational wrongly. Such situations frequently result in pushing away of family members, guardians, care givers, friends, and even colleagues. This distant relationship leads to these victims becoming homeless. According to Folsom (2005), among all the mentally ill patients in California, 15% were homeless. He proceeds to argue that victims suffering from Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia are the most vulnerable to being homeless.
Consequently, poor mental health also negatively affects the physical health of the individuals, especially those without a place to call home. This happens whereby a mentally ill person neglects to take personal care such as sanitation and hygiene. A combination of poor hygiene and being homeless often results to serious deteriorating of their physical health. According to the Administration of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health in the United States, mentally ill people who are also homeless tend to be indulged into drug and substance abuse. This group is majorly made up of African-Americans. Similarly, the combination of drug addiction and mental illnesses makes it hard for employers to grant such a person a job. This will intern lead to an inability to pay their rent and upkeep, therefore becoming homeless.
However, the United States of America through the Administration of Substance Abuse and Mental Health has put measures in place to help reduce the prevalence of homelessness, especially due to mental illnesses. Through improved mental health services, not only mental illnesses will be combated, but also homelessness. Contrary to the belief of many people around the world, most people with suffering from mental illnesses are usually willing to accept prescribed treatment and relevant psychotherapy sessions. It is, however, important to understand that even if mentally-ill homeless people are given homes, it is much effective if they continue with the medication. According to the National Mental Health Association (2006), additional services such as educational opportunities, primary health care, and peer support, and outreaches are significant measures that can help in reducing the prevalence of mentally-ill homelessness. Also, mentally-ill homeless people are most likely to recover and have access to domestic stability if they are engaged in a supported housing program.
In conclusion, it is evident that there is a correlation between mental illnesses and being homeless. A wide variety of factors among mentally-ill individuals render them homeless. This can, however, be controlled through integrated measures by both the state and other relevant bodies. The community should be educated concerning mental illnesses to change the contrary notion that is associated with the same. Family members, guardians, friends, and colleagues should ensure a conducive environment is provided for this group of people to give them a sense of belonging.
Folsom, D. P., Hawthorne, W., Linamar, L., Gilmer, T., Bailey, A., Golshan, S., ... & Jeste, D. V. (2005). Prevalence and risk factors for homelessness and utilization of mental health services among 10,340 patients with serious mental illness in a large public mental health system. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(2), 370-376.
Kessler, R. C., Adler, L., Barkley, R., Biederman, J., Conners, C. K., Demler, O., ... & Spencer, T. (2006). The prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in the United States: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. American Journal of psychiatry, 163(4), 716-723.
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