We know there are many factors that can contribute to a person experiencing homelessness, but one of the most prevalent issues is Severe and Persistent Mental Illness. The relationship between mental illness and the homeless community is unique in that mental illness can render someone homeless and also experiencing homelessness can worsen an individual’s mental illness.
What exactly is Severe and Persistent Mental Illness? Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD are all conditions which, when left unattended, can create additional barriers to health, housing, and employment. A person struggling with severe and persistent mental illness is often unable to access mental health care resources. Instead, they may resort to self-medicating with illegal substances or abuse alcohol, which only worsens their mental and physical health. The combination of untreated mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness makes independent living a challenge, and in some cases impossible.
City with Dwellings believes in ‘wrap around care’ and works every day to offer support for our most neighbors experiencing street homelessness. At our Community First Center on Spring Street we work to build trust with the folks we serve, which is the first step in creating community. This is especially important when working with people who have Severe and Persistent Mental Illness.
Winter shelter will look different this year, and we will assure that these most at risk members of a vulnerable population will have access to shelter. This year’s shelter model offers us a unique opportunity to help establish independent living skills, attend to mental health and substance abuse issues, and provide that wrap around care that helps lower barriers for our community members.