Mental illness is closely associated with homelessness in the minds of most Americans. It is little understood and rarely discussed leading to the development of unwarranted stereotypes and a fear of the homeless. In the first of a series of blogs on mental illness and homelessness, we look at the main myths that our society has created and the reality on our streets.
MYTH: All homeless people are mentally unstable.
FACT: While mental illness is a serious issue for those living on our streets, only 30% of the homeless in LA County actually have a mental illness. This is only slightly more than the general population of America, where 1 in 5 confront some kind of mental health issue in their lifetime.
MYTH: Even if they don't have a mental illness, they are all on drugs right?
FACT: No, in fact only 3 in 10 people experiencing homelessness actually have a substance abuse issue. Some of those within this group of users has also turned to drugs as a way to self medicate due to a larger, untreated mental health issue.
MYTH: When I see someone on the streets, I am afraid. People with mental illness are dangerous.
FACT: There is no reason to be unnaturally afraid when you see someone on the streets. Majority of people you see do not have a mental illness. Even those with mental illness are no more likely to cause you harm than the average person you pass. In fact, people with mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime than to commit one.
Home For Good supports many organizations working to provide comprehensive services to those who need them and works closely with policymakers to ensure that those who need mental health services are reached. Below are just a few of Home For Good's partners working to provide mental health services to those on our streets that need it:
COMING UP NEXT: Stay tuned the rest of our blog series on mental health! In the coming weeks, we will discuss the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act, spotlight the story of those with mental illness, and highlight the work of some of our great partners.