Homelessness and Mental Illness
Many people with serious mental illness are homeless. 39% of homeless individuals report some form of mental health issue, and as many as 25% have a serious mental illness. Their symptoms are frequently untreated, making it difficult for them to meet their basic needs for shelter, food and safety. In addition to lacking treatment, they frequently lack income, not having the ability to work and not being registered for the public benefits to which they are entitled. They are often no longer in contact with family members or other friends.
People with serious mental illnesses have greater difficulty exiting homelessness than others. They are homeless for longer periods of time, and frequently require extensive periods of outreach and trust-building before they will agree to accept shelter and other services.
For most homeless people, the stress of being homeless and feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed and helpless is compounded by a history of trauma, such as catastrophic illness, violence, combat, abrupt separations and physical and sexual abuse.
OPCC has a particular commitment to homeless men and women who are living with mental illness. As the primary provider of mental health services for OPCC, Campion Mental Health Center provides services to clients from the local community and to clients who are members of the other OPCC programs. Several of our transitional housing programs are specifically designed for people living with mental illness, including Daybreak, a program for mentally ill and chronically homeless women. In all of our transitional housing programs, the following services are provided: intensive outreach, the creation of a supportive community within a transitional housing setting, mental health and substance abuse treatment leading to greater stability, and ongoing supportive services after the client has been permanently housed in the community. These key elements play a critical role in assisting our chronic mentally ill homeless clients to exit homelessness and lead more satisfying and empowered lives.