Homelessness is a social problem that continues to exist even in affluent countries like USA, UK. Poor housing or having no house is a gross human rights violation and a severe social issue. A home is vital for good mental and physical health which allows people to live in peace, security, and safety. Numerous factors cause homelessness to the people, such as poverty and lack of affordable housing.
Civil society organizations estimate that at least one percent of the population in India is homeless, which comprises 3 million people in number. Homelessness and mental health are co-related on apparent grounds. A single homeless person is much more likely to have mental health problems compared to the general population. Depression rates are much higher in the homeless population and issues like complex trauma, substance misuse, and social exclusion are also common experiences of their lives. A study also shows that the rate of mental illness among homeless people goes up if they remain homeless for longer.
A very thoughtful initiative has been taken in London to take care of the mental health of rough sleepers. The number of homeless people with mental health problems is on a rapid rise. Thames Reach is a London based charity who decided to bring mental health care to the homeless people in London as they do sense the sensitivity of the problem. Their team supports rough sleepers with mental health problems by giving them access to medications and counseling. The team engages in a wide spectrum of outreach work - from initial gentle contact through to detaining people under mental health care act. The Thames Reach team put their full energy in making efforts to identify the rough sleepers who might need help, observe their behavior to better understand the status of their mental health and give them access to better mental health. They are working for the ones who are living under society’s ignorance. It came to their experiences, some people also refused to take help, but their outreach team never gave up easily. Donna reader was a homeless woman in London suffering from long-standing drug addiction and schizophrenia now gets rescued by the outreach team and lives in a hostel and on psychiatric medication. She says, “I live healthier now I’m not living on the streets. I wake up- I’ve got a toilet, I can have a cup of tea, go downstairs, talk to people. My mental health is better, more controlled. You can't make health go overnight” (2015). Hence, more and more people need to engage themselves everywhere to help the homeless people and we appreciate the Thames outreach team for their consistent efforts.
- Homelessness and mental health. “mental health foundation” Link
- Taking mental health care to the homeless. “BBC” Link