Illnesses In Homelessness

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Mental Illnesses Within the Homeless Population
What is Known There are several factors that contribute to homelessness in the United States. A survey conducted in 25 cities across the country in 2008 showed mental illnesses to be the 3rd largest cause (3). According to The National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 20-25% of the homeless population in the United States possesses a mental illness (1). Some of the most common illnesses amongst this population are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression (2). Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is also a commonly possessed by homeless individuals, specifically veterans. These diseases are all controllable with counseling or the proper prescription medication.
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They are often victimized and assaulted, which has led to the death of many mentally ill homeless individuals. In New York City, almost 1000 mentally ill homeless men were interview and they reported that they had either been assaulted, robbed, threatened, or injured with a broken bone (7). The same study found that almost two thirds of homeless women with schizophrenia have reported to being raped or sexually assaulted. Many mentally-ill homeless individuals die each year due to their vulnerability. A study conducted by the Hospital and Community Psychiatry found 43% of fatal accidents among the homeless community were caused by their own impaired thinking (7).
How do individuals with mental illnesses become homeless? Studies show that homelessness among the mentally ill is strongly correlated with fewer hospital beds dedicated to those who have psychiatric disorders. The decrease in availability of psychiatric hospital beds has led to an increase in crimes and arrests in certain cities. Furthermore, 27-36% of individuals with mental illnesses who were discharged from hospitals in Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York, were reported to have no address six months later
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About 45% of homeless veterans suffer from a mental illness (6). Almost half, 47%, of these individuals fought in the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was a long, brutal battle for the United States. The almost 20-year battle led many Americans to become unsupportive of the soldiers and protest against the war. When the soldiers returned back to the United States, they were treated very poorly. Many were spat on and had trash thrown at them upon arrival. A large portion of these soldiers had a difficult time transforming back to regular society and developed problems such as PTSD, alcohol/drug addiction, and other mental health issues (6). It was difficult for these individuals to get the proper help they needed because there weren’t many people who were willing to provide them with treatment. Consequently, many of the Vietnam veterans became homeless and they battled with their mental illnesses on the

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