• Tristan Angelini

The Link Between Homelessness and Mental Illness




Australia has been consistently battling homelessness for the last decade. Unfortunately, with all the efforts to put a stop to this, seems like it’s just getting worse. The homelessness issue has become so problematic that its effect has gone beyond money or relationships; homelessness has a clear link to a person’s mental health.


According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing, over 564,700 homeless people in America and about 25 percent are mentally ill. In 2016, recorded 116,000 people in Australia are said to be homeless while a documented case of mental illness in homeless people ranges from 2 to 90% - which usually depends on the city.


How is homelessness linked to poor mental health? Let’s find out.


Mental health, by definition, includes the emotional, psychological, and overall social well-being of a person. It definitely affects the way we think, feel, and act. This means that a person’s daily life, relationships, and even physical health can be affected. Over the years, there has been some stigma surrounding this which shouldn’t have been the case because it is such an important matter. One’s mental health is a huge factor in terms of enjoying life.


Mental illness can be many things. Some of the most common ones prevalent among experiencing homelessness involve affective disorders - Affective disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, major depression, anxiety disorders. These disorders would often result in self-medication because of the lack of proper information may lead to substance abuse and other complications.


How is homelessness connected to mental illness?

According to several studies, there’s a two-way relationship between these two. A person with mental health issues could find it difficult to find some stability in their lives, particularly a stable income. Without a stable income, a stable home would be impossible especially because of the current property market in major Australian cities. As a result of poverty, many find themselves homeless which only leads to more problems in the future.


How does homelessness aggravate mental illnesses?

As I have previously mentioned, serious mental issues could affect stability in one’s life. Those with mental health issues are at risk of homelessness. A person without a home could experience trauma, and traumatic events may only increase a person’s distress. Increased stress levels could contribute to cognitive and behavioral problems. So, you see, this issue is extremely serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly.


According to Frank Quinlan, CEO of Mental Health Australia,” Poor housing and housing stress, together with other life stresses, reduces psychological wellbeing and exacerbates mental illness. “Safe, stable and secure accommodation is vital to the mental health and wellbeing of people and families living with mental illness.”


What kind of interventions can be done for homeless people experiencing mental issues?

The first thing that should be done is to recognize what the underlying problem is and that is homelessness. Homelessness is a result of poverty and the lack of opportunities. Long-term affordable accommodation is a good way to improve mental health. If more programs are established to help out homeless people find stable housing, that’s one huge factor that could influence a healthier mental state. According to experts, services that deliver cognitive and social skills training will also help a lot in terms of being able to create and maintain healthy relationships.


Individuals who suffer from mental illnesses are in need of patience and understanding. As part of the community, they will need our help to get back on their feet again and function well. Xotel is committed to partner with different organizations to end homelessness. Check out our website to know more.

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