It’s no surprise that living without a home takes its toll on the mind and body of the individual. Being homelessness has implications on mental, emotional, and physical well-being. People who are homeless deal with circumstances that is hard for those who live in homes to conceptualize. Not every side effect of homelessness is directly visible.
Living without permanent shelter complicates even the simplest of necessary tasks. For those who are homeless, every day is a struggle to find a shelter to sleep, food, and other services they may need to secure survival. Living on the streets increases exposure to drug abuse, criminal activity, and violence and adds to the stress experienced by a person. The stressors of daily living accumulates and become difficult to manage resulting in overwhelm. The conditions of living on the streets affects an individual’s well being, resulting in mental and physical health problems. Further, these problems can become the central focus of someone’s life, and with limited professional treatment options, can completely consumes a person’s attention distracting him or her from finding employment, meeting people, finding government assistance, and taking the economic steps to finding a way out of homelessness.
Health and housing are intricately linked. Living in harsh conditions on the streets or in shelters, people are closer to violence, drug use, contagious diseases, malnutrition and most critically, stressful or even traumatic experiences. This constant exposure to stress can cause people to turn to substances leading to dependence. trauma, depression and other mental health problems. Poor health and homelessness have a bidirectional relationship. Poor health causes homelessness, and being homeless reinforces and worsens poor health conditions.
Homeless individuals have a higher risk for a number of physical and mental illnesses. Comboritiy is high as well. Further, homelessness complicates the treatment of many illnesses. Common health implications that cause homelessness include but are not limited to chronic diseases, physical injuries or disabilities, degenerative disease, and mental health disorders. A number of chronic diseases that are associated with causing homelessness.
For example, AIDs can cause severe convulsions and increases susceptibility to infections, which can make someone unable to work and therefore pay rent. Physical health problems and disabilities as well can lead to homelessness. Accidental injury, including job related accidents can impede someone’s ability to work. Workers’ Compensation is designed to prevent work-related injury from leading to housing loss, buts services to often fall far short due to insufficient fundings. Another problem is that many workers who are injured on the job don’t file for workers compensation either because of lack of knowledge or because the labor was “off the books” work such as migrant farm labor. Disabilities as well limits the kinds of jobs a person can do and makes it harder to find a steady income and stable housing. In addition to physical ailments, degenerative diseases that accompany old age can also lead to homelessness.
Further, elderly adults are often on medicaid and access to proper health care is sometimes difficult and expensive. Along with that, elderly who are on a fixed income are vulnerable to rises in rents or in health costs which leads to eviction and homelessness. Major mental illnesses, especially chronic schizophrenia and PTSD, which both cause bouts of violent or socially unacceptable behavior that is not ideal in a work environment can put someone at risk of job loss and homelessness. Other major health problems that cause homelessness are alcoholism and substance abuse.
In addition, mental illness compromises someone’s ability to manage themselves and their surroundings which strains their personal relationships. Without social support or proper health intervention, many people are forced out of housing and onto the streets or in temporary shelters. Mental illness as well often accompanies physical disabilities and terminal illnesses putting someone at even greater risk for becoming and staying homeless. Overall, there are many ailments coupled with insecure employment and lack of a social support network can lead to someone becoming homeless.
Furthermore, there are also a number of health problems that result from being homeless. Major health problems that may result from homelessness includes and is not limited to malnutrition, infections, diabetes, skin disorders, dental and oral disease, joint problems, STDs, liver disease as a result of alcoholism, hepatitis related to needle-injected drug abuse. Homelessness increases the risk of developing these health problems. Homeless individuals are at higher risk of experiencing traumatic events especially from physical or sexual assault. A National Study of Homeless People evaluated how psychiatric and addiction disorders homeless for people compared to how long a person has been homeless. The study found that psychiatric disorders are most common in people who have been homeless the longest and least common for new-entry homeless. Meaning, the longer a person is homeless, the greater the risk for multiple mental health problems will be.
Further, the study shoes implications that lower levels of mental health problems for the new-entry homeless could be because these individuals have experienced less life stress than those who are chronically homeless. This trend demonstrates how homelessness is a stressful experience that only becomes more stressful as a person continues to be homeless (Lippert). For this reason, many stress-related disease occur or are exacerbated as a result of being homeless. Including infectious diseases as a result of suppressed immune system activity; traumatic disorders; skin problems; heart problems, and respiratory illness, and digestion problems. In addition, Tuberculosis is a serious health issue for homeless people. TB is usually the result of poor diet, heavy alcohol consumption, and other illnesses such as the flu that can compromise resistance in the infection.
Substance abusers and the elderly have the highest risk for developing TB. Immigrants from Third World countries also have an increased risk of infection. A large proportion of adults suffer from various chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and pulmonary diseases. Other problems that occur as a result of the conditions of living on the street include foot problems such as fungal infections or worse as well as oral problems from poor dental hygiene.
Also more life threatening problems like hypothermia and frostbite or hypothermia due to sleeping outside under tough weather conditions. Health problems are dispaporticatly prevalent in homeless populations compared to the general population, but especially for mental illness. This is because homelessness is isolating. Statistically, a third of people in Palo Alto attribute their loss of housing to the loss of a loved one or a relationship breakdown. when a crisis or traumatic events occurs People without strong support networks have no one to turn to in which can potentially lead to that person becoming homeless. Moreover, being homeless can put a strain on existing relationships resulting in a cycle of isolation.
There are limited places where homeless people can go and feel welcome so many many spend large portions of their day alone. In addition to being islating, homelessness is depressing. Rates of depression and anxiety disorders are much higher among homeless populations.
According to the Applied Survey research by the county of Santa Clara, up to 63% of homeless adults experience suicidal thoughts. Being homeless can be a dehumanizing event and feeling judged by others causes unpleasant feelings of lower self-worth. Distressing feelings can be emotionally crippling, and can prevent people from seeking the help they need despite availability. Not only can homelessness be a consequence of mental illness, but the conditions of living on the streets and in temporary arrangements can cause and worsen mental health issues especially affective mood disorders like bipolar disorders, depression, and anxiety disorders. The trauma and stress of living on the streets can likewise cause symptoms of anxiety and depression, insomnia, and loss of appetite. These stress accumulate in a cycle of poor health and homelessness which leads to feelings of overwhelm and defeat.
For these reasons, many homeless people turn to self-medicating with alcohol or illicit drugs leading to addiction and substance abuse disorders as well. There are also some clinical obstacles for providing proper health care for homeless populations. Problems can arise merely from lack of adequate housing alone. For many homeless individuals finding care for even basic medical treatment can be difficult. Bed rest is difficult to find and doctors struggle to find ways to treat individuals who need bed rest. Another example of problems that can arise purely logistically is in treating Diabetes. Diabetes is fairly manageable disease with daily insulin injections and control of diet. However, for someone without a place to store insulin shots and who is rarely in control of the kind of food available in shelters, treatment is much more complicated and taxing for healthcare providers and for the homeless individual.
Beyond basic logistical problems, homeless individuals with adverse encounters with mental health care providers in underfunded institutions with poorly trained staff will likely be more skeptical of getting treatment. Mistrust of services or pharmaceuticals causes many with mental health issues to not seek the help. In addition to adverse experience with mental health services, negative experiences in criminal justice system or in government services leads to mistrust of authority figures even for treatment providers.
Building a relationship with therapist is important to solving pychirach problems. Lack of trust between the system and the individual leaves many people without proper care.Mental health treatment providers regard homeless individuals as less appealing patients because they are often slower to accept help from a therapist, and have more negative experiences and disorders. Homeless people have unpredictable schedules, and don’t keep appointments as regularly.
This can be frustrating for a therapist. The treatment and restoration of a severely mentally ill homeless person requires major financial and professional intervention. Treatment requires patience, clinical skill, and a number of different treatments. For these reasons, mental health providers tend to resort to emergency forms of treatment. Patients can be admitted to the hospital for severely mental illness when the when symptoms become distressing and disabling to the point of life-threatening, or in the case of violent behavior for the protection of others.
Emergency intervention is often costly and and more even more difficult to rehabilit from. However if intervention came earlier, this would be less expensive, safer, and better for the over wellbeing of the individual. Psychiatric treatment providers are frequently frustrated in their efforts to help the most severely disturbed because of the lack of access to inpatient treatment facilities. For several cities and states that stated that because the supply of psychiatric beds is limited, some poor patients have great difficulty gaining access to voluntary inpatient care; occasionally there may even be a waiting period of several days at a public hospital for emergency involuntary psychiatric admission. For these reasons, many homeless people are referred to hospitals for inpatient care for the treatment of disorders that in non homeless people could be managed on an Outpatient basis.
Consent for outpatient or inpatient treatment often can be obtained from a homeless patient relatively easily. For hospital care, voluntary admission is greatly preferred over involuntary commitment and facilitates the development of a constructive doctor—patient relationship. When a patient is unwilling to accept treatment but is clearly dangerous to him or herself or others, civil commitment procedures are available. However, problems arise when a patient is ill and behaves in a manner that is self-jeopardizing or is offensive, embarrassing, or frightening to others. Because these people are not unequivocally dangerous to themselves or others, they cannot be involuntarily committed.Another problem confronting clinicians is a person who is neither offensive not dangerous but who is resistant to treatment because of delusions arising from the mental illness itself. Mental health workers may believe that medication and supportive care could substantially help a mentally ill person cope, but the patient is legally entitled to refuse treatment.
Another concern is Comorbidity caused by mental illness, alcoholism and alcohol abuse, and illicit drug abuse. Homeless individuals with dual and multiple diagnoses further intensified by a higher prevalence of many acute and chronic physical illnesses. Correlations among drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and mental illness may explain this trend. Homeless people with multiple diagnoses creates many problems. Homeless people with dual and multiple diagnoses are among the most difficult to even begin treatmentment. There often are limited programs into for homeless with combirty diseases because each separate diagnosis correlates to a specific treatment modality and treatment system. In sum, Homeless people experience a wide range of illnesses and injuries dispositionally to the general population. Health problems, directly or indirectly, may cause or at least contribute to a someone becoming and remaining homeless.
Especially mental illnesses like schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, PTSD, ect. Without treatment, housing or social support, the daily stresses caused by being homeless may cause and intensify health problems as well. Additionally, even when health services are available, the condition of living without stable housing complicates the treatment and management of diseases.