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Mental Illness And Homelessness Essay

773 words - 4 pages

When the words “mental illness” come to mind, most people conjure up the image of a straitjacket or maybe a padded room in an isolated asylum off the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Whatever the image may be, it is understood that the phrase “mental illness” does not carry a particularly positive connotation. But what exactly is a mental illness? How much is really known about this disease? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a serious medical condition that can modify a person’s way of thinking or feeling. A mental illness can also affect one’s ability to relate to others and function normally on a daily basis (“NAMI”). A mental disorder can arise from an eclectic amount of factors. Biological factors include genetics and long-term substance abuse (“Causes of Mental Illness”). Psychological factors include neglect and childhood abuse (Montgomery et al). Environmental factors include a poor family structure and a change in social surroundings. While the exact source of a majority of mental illnesses is unknown, through extensive research, it has been discovered that there are in fact biological, psychological, and environmental factors, such as those aforementioned, involved in originating a mental illness (“Causes of Mental Illness”). A mental disorder can also be the cause of a variety of problems. In fact, mental illness can be known to cause academic problems, poverty, incarceration, and additional health problems (“Module 1”). Homelessness is another possible consequence (Harvard Mental Health Letter). Over three million people are homeless in the United States every year (“Overview of Homelessness”). At least a quarter of those homeless suffer from a mental illness (Harvard Mental Health Letter). Many of the mentally ill population in America are homeless, and remain so due to the history and effects of their illness from situations such as childhood abuse and alcohol or drug addiction, the fear and lack of supportive housing programs, and the lack of support and integration from federal programs.
It is no secret that a mental disease can hinder a person from maintaining relationships with other individuals. It can also prevent a person from performing simple tasks, such as brushing hair or getting dressed (“Mental Illness and Homelessness”). What makes matters worse are the other inconveniences that may have led to a mental disease or so often accompany a mental...

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