Mental Health and the Homeless Community

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Introduction The Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] used the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ definition of mental illness as “health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning” (2011). Our community is exposed to a large number of individuals with mental illness. Among those individuals are the widespread homeless populations. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development reported “twenty-five percent of the sheltered homeless report a severe mental illness (as cited in Allender, Rector and Warner 2014 p. 907).” This author found the target population to be predominantly Caucasian, Non-Hispanic, single males of thirty-one years of age and older. In reviewing the research, this author found that multiple health disparities happen in conjunction with mental health and homelessness. This includes cardiac and respiratory issues and HIV/AIDs. Without the proper healthcare services, the homeless mental health population remains vulnerable. Synthesis of available literature After reviewing the literature, this author pinpointed several environmental, individual, and agent factors, which make up the epidemiologic triad, contribute to the topic of mental health in the homeless. Environmental Factors Looking at the environmental components in relation to the homeless and their mental health, this author found socioeconomic adversity, lack of health insurance and health care, lack of food, clothing, and shelter as the predominant variables. Zlotnick, Zerger, and Wolfe stated that “Limits on shelter stays during the daytime and competing needs to seek food and employment also in... ... middle of paper ... ...g from the 2009 patient survey. Health Service Research, 48(3), 992-1017. O'Campo, P., Kirst, M., Schaefer-McDaniel, N., Firestone, M., Scott, A., & McShane, K. (2009). Community-based services for homeless adults experiencing concurrent mental health and substance use disorders: A realist approach to synthesizing evidence. Journal of Urban Health, 86(6), 965-985. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999. Zlotnick, C., Zerger, S., & Wolfe, P. B. (2013). Health care for the homeless: What we have learned in the past 30 years and what's next. American Journal of Public Health, 103(2), 199-205.

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