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Mental Illness and the Homeless

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RUNNING HEAD: Mental Illness & the Homeless

Mental Illness & the Homeless

Shannon Nolen

I have lived in many cities and visited many cities where there are a lot of homeless people. I have sometimes wondered how these people get into the situation of not having anywhere to go. I also see a lot of these people talking to themselves and I have always thought they were just on drugs which a lot of them probably are but now that I have learned more about mental illness it is very difficult to determine whether mental illness is a cause or an effect of homelessness. There is research showing that “It is thought that approximately 25 to 33 percent of the homeless population suffers from some form of mental illness” (Townsend). This number is shocking to me and made me wonder why this is? Some of the following theories have been proposed: the deinstitutionalization movement of the 50’s and 60’s, the growing number of war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, cuts in government entitlement programs for the mentally ill and substance abuse (Townsend). As nurses we have a very important role in treating the mentally ill homeless patient. We have to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, evaluate whether or not they are taking medications and receiving the right kind of treatment, and if they aren’t we need to guide them in the right direction for getting treatment and provide resources for them to help them as much as we can.
The majority of the homeless population seems to live in areas with a lot of people and have decent weather like San Diego. In San Diego, they are mostly visible in the downtown area where there are most of the shelters or we also see a lot of them in the beach cities like Pacific Beach, and Ocean Beach and I think they like to hang out there...

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