Statistics Show That _______ of Homeless Adults Living in Shelters Experience Mental Illness
Homeless individuals tend to have a history of poverty and social disadvantage, including childhood poverty and lower levels of education, as well as being from an ethnic minority [3,6,11].
Youths experiencing homelessness face many barriers to accessing mental health care, often due to poor health literacy and past negative experiences with the healthcare system regarding mental illness. They are at an increased risk for traumatic experiences and other psychopathology such as substance abuse issues, suicidal ideation or attempts, and psychiatric comorbidities.
Unfortunately, mental health care needs are sometimes not prioritized when basic survival is at stake. As a result, treatment goals may not be established and medication adherence often suffers as a result.
Young people who are homeless experience more trauma than those without, and as a result are more likely to meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder than their housed peers. This exposure to traumatic events can lead to mental illnesses as well as an increase in homelessness rates.
It is essential to be aware that many serious mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder, typically begin in youth (ages 18-25) and last into adulthood. This could explain why a history of these disorders appears prior to homelessness episodes in about two thirds of cases. Furthermore, these conditions tend to be chronic and difficult to manage.