Many Homeless Have Mental Illness
Over the last year, I've been learning much as possible about homeless people with disabling mental illnesses, especially ones with psychotic disorders.
May is Mental Health Month, and I am a licensed professional counselor, so this might be a good venue and time to share some of what I found.
First, it's impossible for anyone to determine, with absolute certainty, the number of homeless Americans with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. These good people don't wear name tags letting you know they have a mental illness. It's a hidden disability. Most people with any form of schizophrenia, for example, can't hold a regular job.
Probably a little more than one percent of the general population has a form of schizophrenia, whereas the rate among chronically homeless people is probably just above ten percent, which amounts to a rate about ten times that of the general population.
A person with schizophrenia, in general, may have bizarre delusions, hallucinations, show grossly disorganized or inappropriate behavior, disorganized speech, emotional unresponsiveness, say few words, and be unable to initiate activities. Men usually acquire schizophrenia between ages 18-25 and women ages 25-35. Genetics play a role. A person right before onset usually experiences severe stress.
What makes the homeless population more of a concern, given their financial limitations and often their lack of healthcare insurance, is their strong likelihood of not having access to psychiatric care and medication, which is absolutely essential to managing these disorders.
People with schizophrenia tend to have poor insight into having it, leading many of them who aren't seeing a psychiatrist to not see a need for going, and the ones seeing a psychiatrist often to not comply with treatment. Many times the medication prescribed has almost intolerable side effects. Also, in some cases, the disorder itself tends to move people toward social isolation and away from seeking treatment.
For instance, one person I met preferred homelessness because being so enabled him to stay away from people he thought were persecuting him. His thoughts were a manifestation of a delusional disorder, akin to schizophrenia. This particular person likely never would apply for healthcare insurance (he didn't have any then) or see a psychiatrist due to deep-seated fears of what "they" would do to him.
There are other serious and persistent mental illnesses besides schizophrenia, including borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and recurrent major depression. Other homeless people have these potentially disabling conditions, too.
LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.
Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.
Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com
Placer County News HeadlinesVacation Deals: On Tight BudgetsLet's face it, we all love our vacation time. A time to break off from everyday routines, ditch a portion of the responsibility we call life and enjoy doing what we love
Joyce and Jim Raley Teel & Joseph Gallo HonoredMore than 700 guests came out to honor Joyce and Jim Raley Teel, Raley's Family of Fine Stores and Joseph E. Gallo at their induction into the California Grocers Association Educational
Roseville Solar City Location Looks to Fill 300 JobsSolarCity , one of the nation's leading solar providers, announced its move into a vast new Roseville, California office to accommodate its growing local staff.
Republicans Start Swinging in Auburn Golf BattleAuburn, CA- The temperature are rising and Republicans will be heating it up in Auburn at the 4th Annual Placer County Republican Golf Tournament
Top 100 Paying Jobs in California (Part 5)Part 5 in the countdown to #1 to the Top 100 Paying Jobs in California
Jessica's Law Enforcement Changes Prompt ResponseJessica's Law authors George and Sharon Runner today responded to a decision by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to stop enforcing Jessica's Law residency
Maria Menounos: Special Olympics Global AmbassadorThe Special Olympics has announced that author and television personality Maria Menounos of E! is joining the Special Olympics family as the movement's newest Global Ambassador.
Van Halen to play Shoreline Amphitheatre on July 16For Northern California fans, Van Halen's only scheduled area appearance will take place at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on July 16.
Rocklin Home for Sale: Retreat at Whitney OaksA brand new, custom home on Whitney Oaks golf course lot is now available in Rocklin.
Placer County Ranks #1 in Quality of Life, Second HealthiestFor the third consecutive year, Placer County has ranked as the second healthiest county among California's 58 counties.
A Blue Tie Affair: KidsFirst Annual Luncheon April 16thThe 17th Annual Signature Luncheon promoting awareness for Child Abuse Prevention will be hosted by retired PCWA General Manager David Breninger and his wife Linda.
Roseville City Jail Slated for ConversionThe Roseville City Council has approved the conversion of the Roseville City Jail to an arrestee processing center when