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Family Guidance Blog

How Does Mental Illness Impact Rates of Homelessness?

The link between mental illness and homelessness is strong in our country. Certain types of mental illness can make it difficult to hold down a job, manage one’s finances, or apply healthy coping skills when life seems to be spiraling out of control.

Turning a blind eye or pretending the situation doesn’t exist only promises to make it worse. Each yearHomeless 2 the number of homeless individuals rises, making it difficult for mental health centers and local shelters to accommodate those in need. While mental illness increases a person’s risk of homelessness in America threefold, there is now a new victim – children and young adults of parents who are having difficulty making ends meet.

In Massachusetts alone, the homeless population numbers close to 20,000 people, an increase of 14 percent since the year 2010. More alarming, the number of preschool to high school-aged students in the state without shelter is twice what it was just 10 years ago.

In small towns, the problem may not be as evident. However, in cities like Berkeley, California, it’s not uncommon to have up to 1,200 individuals making their bed on the streets each night. Studies show that approximately 33 percent of our nation’s homeless live with a serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia for which they are not receiving treatment.

Treating mental illness is not a one-and-done resolution. In California, about 25 percent of those released from a mental health facility eventually ends up homeless. In New York, that figure rises to 38 percent after only six short months of discharge. Sadly, the combination of mental illness and homelessness too often creates the perfect storm for incarceration, which further decreases a person’s chance of receiving proper treatment and can lead to future re-offenses.

Family Guidance Center wants to help break the cycle. Learn the facts about mental illness, and support local efforts to stamp out homelessness. If you know someone who could benefit from mental health services, contact Family Guidance Center.

Frequent Moving Takes a Toll on Low-Income Children

Children Mental Health 1It’s often a difficult decision to pick up and move one’s family to another location. Though, sometimes circumstances don’t leave much of a choice. It’s not uncommon for parents to be concerned about uprooting their school-aged children, especially when they have already formed strong friendships and emotional bonds with students at their current school. But what about children under 5 who haven’t officially started attending classes yet?

Research shows that children of lower income families seem to be most affected by the process of moving. A study conducted by investigators at Cornell University in partnership with the National Employment Law Project uncovered that although moving is something that many of us experience at some point over the course of our lifetimes, children living in poverty are forced to relocate three times or more before their fifth birthday. Many experience more problems with depression, anxiety, and paying attention.

As part of the investigation covered in a recent Psych Central report, researchers examined data for over 2,800 children taken from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. They were particularly concerned with the impact of persistent relocations on children’s preparedness for coursework in a classroom setting.

Data indicates that families in the lower income bracket tend to move more frequently than others, and that the housing crisis and tumbling job market have driven low-income families to seek out work and affordable housing wherever they can find it. Study results also showed that increased behavioral issues only seemed to occur amongst children of low-income families.

Moving can be stressful. If you or someone you know has been forced to relocate several times with young children, assistance for problems like anxiety, depression or related mental health conditions can be found at the Family Guidance Center. Mental health professionals are available to all, regardless of income, and can help provide families and children with mental health support they need adjusting to a new environment. For more information on relocation assistance, contact the Family Guidance Center.

How to Cope With Issues of Mental Health and Homelessness

Mental Health 3The relationship between homelessness and mental illness is complex and often the two are intertwined. The reality of homelessness in America is still met with scrutiny as some people believe living on the streets is simply the result of problems with drugs or an unwillingness to work. However, other causes for being homeless include abuse and mental health problems.

The reality is, it’s not uncommon for those with severe, untreated mental health issues to end up on the streets, and a great number are single parents and children. A PsychCentral blog presents 2013 data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, which shows that approximately 250,000 families have no roof over their heads, many of whom feel alone and don’t know where to turn. Seven percent of this group resides outside urban areas where it may be more difficult to find help.

Sadly, one of every 45 kids in the U.S. is homeless. Some live out of vehicles or turn to public places like libraries for shelter. And going undetected isn’t extremely difficult with the use of a PO box or another’s residential address. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, kids without shelter are more apt to experience medical problems including ear infections, irritation of the GI tract, asthma, and other breathing problems. They are also at triple the risk of behavioral problems as their non-homeless peers.

Having a loved one with a mental illness can be difficult, especially if the person hasn’t received a diagnosis or refuses treatment. A lot of family members are left feeling helpless, particularly when mental health issues lead the person to be hospitalized, imprisoned, or homeless. There are, however, ways for families and friends to help.

Family Guidance Center is a great resource for questions regarding mental health. Mental health professionals there can put you in touch with other organizations which may be able to offer additional assistance. Mental illness and homelessness are not conditions to be ashamed of, but to be addressed with the goal of management and recovery.  Contact Family Guidance Center today to begin working together on a plan for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

Stress of Homelessness Takes a Mental Toll on Children

The holiday season evokes memories of food, family, and fun – but not for everyone. Christmastime canHomeless 1 be a difficult time of year for families struggling to make ends meet. A down economy, difficulty securing employment, and rising costs may leave some fighting to provide even basic needs for their children including food and shelter, let alone holiday extras.

While we do think of children during the holidays, images of homeless children are not one of the first things that come to mind. However, according to an article, there are 1.6 million children who have no shelter for at least a portion of each year. Financial issues amongst the parents are a contributing factor, but so is mental illness.

A parent suffering from mental illness may have trouble holding down a job or making ends meet. Financial pressures add an extra layer of stress, and, many parents may not seek the help they need because they either don’t know they are battling a mental illness or they believe they can’t afford treatment.

Statistics show that nearly half of all homeless people have some form of mental health problem, a figure that considerably outweighs that of the normal population. Since homelessness can be very stressful, it is difficult to tell whether stress triggers bring on mental illness or if mental illness contributed to the circumstances. Regardless, the fact remains that the upset of being homeless takes a mental toll on children as well as parents.

Issues associated with being homeless include heightened anxiety from not having proper shelter or food as well as the dangers of residing on the streets. Children forced to cope in these situations can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, problems sleeping, and other mental health disorders. Some parents under this type of pressure may seek short-term escape in drugs or alcohol, which serves to perpetuate the problem.

Family Guidance Center can help families address the symptoms of mental illness from a whole-person perspective, as well as help refer families to local support resources. By providing mental health support and addiction recovery programs, Family Guidance Center helps families plan next steps for a return to quality of life. Call today to find out more.