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Homeless Mental Health Intervention

Problem Description

  • Mental illness and homelessness are related;
  • Many homeless people have mental illnesses;
  • Illness makes escaping homelessness more difficult;
  • They struggle to receive adequate care.

Mental illness and homelessness are related in a bidirectional manner; the former makes one more likely to lose their home and complicates escape from the condition, and the latter prevents the affected person from accessing care. As a result, a substantial proportion of homeless people, both in the United States (where some studies have placed it between 26% and 46%) and worldwide, have mental illnesses (Prasad, 2016). They may acquire said condition before losing their home or afterward, but either way, the fundamental problem remains unchanged. The current mental health care frameworks are not adequately equipped to help homeless people address their issues. It is challenging for the population to access the appropriate services even if they exist because they lack understanding of their condition and knowledge of where to find help. As a result, they do not seek help and escape medical providers’ monitoring, and they give up on seeking help if they recognize their issues because they do not understand the available options.

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Interventions for Homeless Mental Health

  • Interventions target both the conditions;
  • Shelters can provide mental health care;
  • Understanding of mental health concerns needs improvement;
  • Substance abuse reduction is also a priority.

Interventions for mental health in homeless people have to target both aspects of the condition. Helping the person overcome their condition but leaving them homeless creates the risk of relapse once they no longer receive active care. As such, interventions typically include shelters or subsidized supportive housing where the patients reside while they work to return to society (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2017). These facilities are also convenient for the purposes of care, as they enable medical professionals to proactively identify issues and monitor patients. As a result, providers can design traditional longer-term interventions and implement them effectively despite the patients’ circumstances. With that said, initiatives such as these are limited in scope and accessibility and unable to accommodate the entirety of the homeless population. As a result, the issues of them not seeking help and engaging in substance abuse, which also promotes the development of mental illness, remain in place. Community-oriented education measures are required to mitigate these concerns and enable people to seek the help that they need.

Proposed Intervention

  • The intervention will be family-centered;
  • Family support networks are potent tools;
  • They can direct homeless members to care;
  • Understanding of mental illness enables support.

Institutional care is fundamentally limited in its ability to reach people with whom it has few to no connections, such as the homeless. As a result, and due to the various other problematic aspects of the concept, deinstitutionalization has been progressing in developed nations such as the UK (Evans et al., 2019). Instead of the facility that provides impersonal care, support is provided by the person’s existing connections, of which family is first and foremost. Many homeless people retain a degree of connection with their families, which often try to help but do not know how to do so. Moreover, mental illness may lead a person to drive their family members, who do not recognize the cause behind the hostility, away. The proposed intervention targets this lack of knowledge, educating families about mental health and ways to help homeless members. They can refer the patient to appropriate resources and provide the emotional (and possibly physical) support that is essential to overcoming many mental health conditions.


Evans, K., O’Brien, A., Nizette, D., & Johnson, C. (Eds.). (2019). Psychiatric and mental health nursing in the UK. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Prasad, B. V. (2016). Chronic mental illness and the changing scope of intervention strategies, diagnosis, and treatment. IGI Global.

Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2017). Foundations for population health in community/public health nursing (5th ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences.

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