HOMELESSNESS AND MENTAL ILLNESS: THE RELATIONSHIP
Date of submission
Homelessness and Mental Illness
A housing policy can be thought of as the efforts put in by a given government to transform a housing market(s) for the purposes of achieving social objectives. In most cases, a housing policy is meant to ensure that the general population has access to a home that is affordable. For instance, the British Conservative/Liberal Democratic coalition’s housing policy is aimed at increasing the number of affordable housing units; fostering homeownership; making social housing flexible; tackling homelessness (especially for the disadvantaged such as the mentally ill) and making sure that the quality and sustainability of housing units are not compromised. The Scottish government went further by stating that all persons in the country should have a place they can comfortably call a home; that is warm, safe and affordable (Lund 2011 pg. 1- 2). Despite having ambitious housing policies, homelessness still persists in the UK. With this in mind, this paper looks, and evaluates, at how the governments, over the years, have tried in dealing with homelessness and the mentally ill. But first the paper will discuss the relationship between homelessness and mental illness. Homelessness and Mental Illness: The Relationship
It has often been acknowledged that homelessness can lead to mental illness; it has also been acknowledged that mental illness can lead to homelessness. Homeless link (2011), in an independent study, found that about 42% of homeless persons seeking homelessness services suffer some form of mental illnesses. In addition, about 18% of those seeking these services had a personality disorder. This research was limited to England only. From these figures, it can be argued that almost half of all homeless persons in the United Kingdom have some form of mental health needs. Mental illness is twice as common among the homeless population as in the general population (Crisis 2009). This simply means that there is twice likely that a mentally ill person is homeless than is housed. From this figure, it can be argued that the onset of mental health problems can either trigger or be a component of a chain of events that may lead to homelessness. In the same breath, mental illness might as well be exacerbated by homelessness. Moreover, the stresses that come with homelessness can lead to mental illnesses. This demonstrates the intimate association that homelessness has with mental illness. Housing Needs of the Mentally Ill
First and foremost, the mentally ill homeless persons need a comfortable place to shelter in and proper accommodation facilities. Provision of shelter and accommodation to the mentally ill above everything else has been found to provide relatively stable housing outcomes for the mentally ill homeless persons (Rees 2009). In addition, it would be pointless to provide other services to them if their basic needs of food, shelter and safety are not met (St Mungo’s 2008). Therefore, they have to be provided with comfortable places if their rehabilitation is to succeed.
Although providing the homeless mentally ill with shelter and accommodation is good enough, it shouldn’t be the end since it is not sufficient. These persons also need specialized mental attention. This simply means that mental health services have to be provided to the places where they are housed. Dedicated mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, mental health nurses, psychologists, social and support workers and counselors have to be provided to the newly housed mentally ill. Mental health services provision will ensure that the mental ill are adequately supported in their quest for a better life. In some cases, these services can make them overcome their mental problems and thus return to their normal, better selves....
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