There are various myths people have about homelessness and depression. For example, many people believe that only illiterate people can be homeless. Coohey and Easton (2016) confirm that there is a significant percentage of the population that is literate but still homeless. The US has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the world, yet, despite this, still has approximately 500,000 people being homeless every night (Taylor et al., 2016).
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Whereas some homeless people might find shelters where they can spend the nights, some live in their cars while others live on the streets. It is interesting that there are few studies that relate homelessness and depression. Additionally, whereas the government has established several policies to help homeless people, there is still much that can be done. Woodhall-Melnik, Dunn, Svenson, Patterson and Mathesonbe (2018) explain that one of the reasons for this is the stigma that is associated with both homelessness and mental health.
I have always believed that depression is a “fake” condition. This is due to my upbringing where people would not talk about their emotions or feelings. Additionally, my socialization made me believe that one can get over any type of loss and there was no time for feeling sorry or sad for oneself. Therefore, depression was not real. It is important to note that I also believed that it was a condition of wealthy people.
To me, low income families could not develop depression as they had other things to think about. This bias changed when a close friend tried to commit suicide due to depression. The fact that I did not notice that this friend was extremely unhappy and felt like there was no hope or relevance of life after she became homeless changed my perspective of the condition. Through further reading and active engagements with professionals, I was able to understand what depression is and how it can affect someone. In light of this, I became interested in depression and homelessness, hence, this proposed research study.
- Is there a direct correlation between homelessness and depression amongst literate and illiterate people?
There is a direct correlation between homelessness and depression among literate people as compared to illiterate people. This hypothesis is proposed due to pre-knowledge that indicates that depressed people often lack confidence and do not have hope in life (Phipps, Dalton, Maxwell, & Cleary, 2018; Marcal, 2017). Additionally, they believe that nothing is relevant and they have had enough of this life.
The study will use both questionnaires and correlation. The two approaches are best suited to capture the data required to test the hypothesis and answer the research question as well. Additionally, each of the chosen methods has its own advantages. For example, questionnaires allow for both close and open-ended questions. Thus, a lot of data can be collected that may be used to write the report. The data can also show relations that were not considered at first. Furthermore, correlation allows the researcher to test the strength and direction of the relationship between the variables.
Variables of Interest
Homelessness and literacy are the independent variables in the study while depression is the dependent variable.
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Type of Data
The researcher will use two broad types of data namely secondary and primary data. Secondary data is collected through previous peer reviewed journals, articles and books on the topic. Additionally, the questionnaire mentioned earlier will be used to collect the primary data, which is fresh opinions and thoughts form a select sample of the target audience. Specifically, the study will use interview data and past research data as part of the data collected.
Participants will be both men and women aged between 18 and 50 who are homeless. There will be no restrictions on how long they have been homeless or why they are in the situation.
The target population is homeless people living in the city. To ensure enough participants are recruited in the study, a partnership with two homeless shelters will be sought. The two shelters will have to be significantly far from each other in order to get different people with different situations included in the study. It is expected that 52 participants will be included in the study. Half of the 52 will be female. Additionally, half will be from shelter A and the rest from shelter B.
The researcher will use random sampling to identify the 52 mentioned participants of the study. One of the reasons why random sampling is selected for the study is the fact that it lowers any bias or prejudice that would have been recorded with physical sampling. Additionally, since a computer software picks the people, as the shelters have records of the people who stay there, the participants will not feel like they have been put under the spotlight.
The primary data will be collected in the following way:
- Development of the questionnaire
- Pre-testing the questionnaire
- Revising the questionnaire
- Printing out 52 copies of the questionnaire
- Going to the first shelter and speaking with each participant one-on-one while recording their responses in individual questionnaires
- Going to the second shelter and speaking with each participant one-on-one while recording their responses in individual questionnaires.
- Inputting the collected data in an excel sheet for analyzing.
Beneficiaries of the Study
The study will benefit homeless shelters and other institutions that are trying to cater for the needs of homeless individuals. Additionally, the findings will help policy makers come up with relevant health policies for homeless people.
Limitations to the Study
One of the limitations of the study is the sensitivity of the topic. As stated previously, there is still a lot of stigma associated with both homelessness and depression. It is possible that the researcher will not get all 52 willing participants. Due to the fact that the research requires willing participation, the researcher will ideally have to customize the sample size based on the number of available and willing participants. It is important that the researcher explains the random sampling method to both the shelter managements and the participants so that they do not feel targeted by the research.
Additionally, an ethical limitation of the study would be giving incentives to the participants. Due to their state, it is expected that some participants will request for incentives in order to participate. Despite the fact that lack of an incentive might lower the number of participants, the researcher has to explain that no incentives can be given for participation. It is for this reason that the participants will be interviewed in the shelter so that they do not use personal funds for transport or extra meals to participate in the study.
Coohey, C., & Easton, D. S. (2016). Distal stressors and depression among homeless men. Health & Social Work, 41(2), 111–119.
Marcal, K. (2017). Timing of housing crises: Impacts on maternal depression. Social Work in Mental Health, 16(3), 266-283.
Phipps, M., Dalton, L., Maxwell, H., & Cleary, M. (2018). Women and homelessness, a complex multidimensional issue: Findings from a scoping review. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 28(1), 1-13.
Taylor, P. K., Cunningham, A., Schultz, L., Jager‐Hyman, S., Sposato, R., Evans, A., … Creed, A. T. (2016). Using a cognitive behavioral framework to train staff serving individuals who experience chronic homelessness. Journal of Community Psychology, 44(5), 674-680.
Woodhall-Melnik, J., Dunn, R. J., Svenson, S., Patterson, C., & Mathesonbe, I. F. (2018). Men’s experiences of early life trauma and pathways into long-term homelessness. Child Abuse & Neglect, 80, 216-225.