There is a connection between homelessness and mental health.
Peter Tarr, writing for the Brain and Behavior Foundation says, “most researchers agree that the connection between homelessness and mental illness is a complicated two-way relationship.” An individual’s mental illness may lead to cognitive and behavioral issues that make it difficult to earn a stable income or to carry out daily activities in ways that enable stable housing.
Mental health is an essential component of your overall life experience. It impacts all domains of life including physical, spiritual, vocational, and relational. One area where a person’s mental health has a big impact is in housing. Surveys indicate that close to half of people who are homeless have a mental health diagnosis.
The Canadian observatory on Homelessness says people with mental health conditions are more susceptible to the three main factors that lead to homelessness poverty, disaffiliation, and personal vulnerability. Because they often lack the capacity to sustain employment, they have little income. Their thinking may lead them to withdraw from friends and family. This loss of support leaves them with fewer coping resources in times of trouble. Their ability to be resilient and resourceful is often compromised. Right now in our area there are many families one paycheck away from being homeless.
Often depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress can underlie the series of life occurrences that lead a person to homelessness. As it gets colder outside, I would encourage all of us to think of the ways in which we can help those experiencing housing insecurity. Listen nonjudgmentally and be a difference maker for someone who needs your help.
In today’s economy, at any given time our area has dozens of individuals or families who are homeless. Usually there is a series of unfortunate events that led up to a person or family being without a home. At least half of the time mental health is a factor.
We all have the same basic needs: physical safety, education, transportation, affordable housing, and affordable healthcare. This month, consider how you can be a difference maker by helping someone less fortunate than yourself. Be a supporter of services for those experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness. It will make your community a better place.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCCS, Executive Director
(Canadian observatory on Homelessness ttps://www.homelesshub.ca/about-homelessness/topics/mental-health)