In case you cannot see the video here is the link: Video
What you need to know:
I am not going to beat around the bush or sugar-coat it, there is a pandemic in America, and I am not talking Corona. At an absolute minimum, 25% of homeless individuals are “seriously” mentally ill (“Homelessness and Mental Illness: A Challenge to Our Society.”). And that is only counting individuals whose state is considered “serious”, which is defined by NIMH as a “mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities” (“Mental Illness.”). That is, again at an absolute minimum, 140,000 people who are practically unable to function. Then add another 20% for homeless people who are mentally ill without the “serious” attached, and you have yourself, at a minimum, 250,000 homeless people suffering from mental illness (“Homelessness and Mental Illness: A Challenge to Our Society.”). Although the true scope of the problem is almost unknowable, due to lack of research. One study found the reported rates to be 78% (Rountree). That is obviously not acceptable.
However, in order to be able to fix the problem, we must first understand the problem, and the problem of mental illness in a homeless setting is far more complex than it may occur on the surface. The first question that begs an answer is this: Does homelessness cause mental illness or does mental illness cause homelessness? And the answer is… “yes”. Mental illness and homelessness is a two-way street (“Homelessness and Mental Illness: A Challenge to Our Society.”). Being mentally ill makes you far more likely to be homeless, as you are less able to function, which makes it harder to get a job and pay rent. Being homeless also contributes to mental illness, due to the strife and trauma of living in such terrible conditions. Substance abuse further adds to the likelihood of mental health issues in homeless individuals, with 75% reporting substance abuse of some kind (Rountree).
My Response: What can be done?
The first answer is obvious: Provide funding to programs that combat homelessness and alleviate the struggles of being homeless. The federal government spends about 2.777 billion a year on grants to combat homelessness, but this is not nearly enough (“Federal Funding for Homelessness Programs.”). It is up to us, as responsible caring individuals, to donate to organizations that combat homelessness, push for legislation aimed at homelessness, and elect representatives that hold relevant beliefs about the importance of homelessness. We have to do our part. That is the easy doable answer, and I have attached below two links to websites that are good places to put your money to help combat homelessness:
The next answer is harder, and beyond my own personal capabilities. I believe that we need to establish organizations aimed specifically at assisting mentally ill homeless individuals. Through all of my research for this catalyst page, I could not find a single organization aimed at mentally ill homeless individuals. There are many great organizations out there looking to end homelessness, and even more providing physical support to those in need, and that is great. But only a few that I found had mental health oriented programs, and all of them were centered around substance abuse. We need people out there focused on the mental health of the homeless. Organizations and individuals focused on that cause specifically, because what good is getting a mentally ill person a home, if they will just end up back on the street because the underlying issues were never addressed? In order to help homelessness, we must first help the homeless.