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 HeadlinesPlacer County Republican Party To Hold 2014 ConventionLOOMIS - The Placer County Republican Party will hold its endorsement convention on Aug. 23 to select which candidates to support for local offices in Placer County.
Job Fair in Roseville August 22ndRoseville, CA -- Multiple community agencies including Brandman University, The City of Roseville Libraries, Placer, Sacramento and El Dorado Counties, Golden Sierra Job Training, and Sacramento Works
Roseville Crime Report Digest Update (7.23.14)The Roseville Police Department weekly crime report digest update for July 23, 2014.
California Limits Full Contact Football for StudentsGovernor Jerry Brown signed into law AB2127 which limits, but does not eliminate full contact football practices for middle and high school students.
Beware of Deceptive Home Improvement OffersThe California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging consumers to be aware of home improvement offers by individuals who use unethical business practices to gain entry into their homes
Continuous Improvement Network: August 6th & 20thSierra College CACT provides Value Stream Mapping Training in Sacramento on August 6 & 20 for the Continuous Improvement Network
Alternative Transportation Programs in Placer CountyPlacer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) is your resource for information about alternative transportation services in Placer County.
Auburn Woman Attacked Inside HomePlacer County sheriff's detectives are looking for a man who attacked a woman at her north Auburn home early this morning.
Western Nationals Softball Tournament in Roseville and LincolnASA Softball is bringing the Western Nationals for the Girls B 10U & 12U divisions to the Placer Valley Area. The event is six days long, taking place from July 28-August 3.
Tahoe Public Projects Garner AttentionTahoe Transportation District has been recognized nationally and by the state of Nevada for its positive impacts, collaborative initiatives, environmental enhancement, and service to the community's
Rocklin National Night Out Events August 5thEach community member is invited to join their neighborhood watch group and the Rocklin Police Department for National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.
Recovery Plan for California Salmon and SteelheadNOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California's Central Valley