Mental illness, depression, and homelessness

Mental Illness and Homelessness


Did you know that mental health disorders can reduce life expectancy by 10 to 20 years? That is as much as or even more than smoking over 20 cigarettes a day?

The mortality risk for women with postpartum depression was more than seven times higher than that of a heavy smoker. People with substance abuse disorders and anorexia had higher mortality rates than smokers, as well. And while chain smoking eight to 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, schizophrenia can decrease life expectancy by up to 20 years.

People suffering from mental conditions are sometimes less likely to go to the doctor. They may not be able to manage their own health care. The statewide 2015 Wilder Research Study on Homelessness (Minnesota) states that mental health issues are a concern for adults experiencing homelessness: 57% report serious mental health issues in 2015, compared with 55% in 2012, and 36% in 2000.

Hundreds of people experiencing homelessness also end up in psychiatric hospitals with severe mental illnesses. They usually stay in the hospital for a short period of time. Then they return to the streets without any medical care.

Mental Illness: a barrier to progress for those experiencing homelessness


All too often untreated mental illness is a barrier for people experiencing homelessness to progress towards independence. At House of Charity, we have found that we first must help people become stable with consistent housing and food before we can help them seek treatment for mental illness. Our housing program provides that initial stability and our Day by Day program and other services near us help people address and treat their mental illness along with chemical dependency as often they are combined barriers.

Also from the 2015 Wilder Research Study on Homelessness, of the population statewide in Minnesota who have experienced long-term homelessness: 60% have a mental illness, 21% have a substance abuse problem, and 18% have a dual mental illness and chemical dependency diagnosis. Having both is a significant barrier to having independent housing.