The Problems of Homelessness and Mental Illness

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Introduction The problems of homelessness and mental illness are inextricably intertwined. One way that mental illness impacts people's lives is that it oftentimes renders them unable to carry out the functions of daily life, such as keeping a job, paying their bills, and managing a household. In addition to disrupting the events of daily life, mental illness "may also prevent people from forming and maintaining stable relationships or cause people to misinterpret others' guidance and react irrationally" (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009). What this means is that a population that is already vulnerable because of an inability to consistently manage self-care lacks the same safety net as much of the rest of society. People with mental illnesses are at greater risk of homelessness. This is particularly true for people with serious mental illnesses, particularly those that might impact their reality testing, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009). California, like other areas of the country, sees a relationship between mental illness and homelessness. In fact, mental illness may be one of the most significant risk factors for homelessness. Of people with serious mental illness seen by California's public mental health system, approximately 15% of them experienced at least one bout of homelessness in a one-year period (Folsom et al., 2005). Furthermore, "According to the Substance Abuse and Mental
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