Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking and lack of motivation. However, with treatment, most symptoms of schizophrenia will greatly improve and the likelihood of a recurrence can be diminished.
While there is no cure for schizophrenia, research is leading to innovative and safer treatments. Experts also are unraveling the causes of the disease by studying genetics, conducting behavioral research, and using advanced imaging to look at the brain’s structure and function. These approaches hold the promise of new, and more effective therapies.
The complexity of schizophrenia may help explain why there are misconceptions about the disease. Schizophrenia does not mean split personality or multiple-personality. Most people with schizophrenia are not any more dangerous or violent than people in the general population. While limited mental health resources in the community may lead to homelessness and frequent hospitalizations, it is a misconception that people with schizophrenia end up homeless or living in hospitals. Most people with schizophrenia live with their family, in group homes or on their own.
Dual diagnosis is an illness which a person experiences when they have both an addiction problem and a mental health issue
On a late evening in April 2017, I sat in an emergency accommodation hostel, a place where there are no facilities for you to stay during the day and so you are put out on to the streets every morning.
But I didn’t know that yet.
In fact, I didn’t know much at all about how the system worked. more
I barely slept for the full two years I was homeless. One night, I searched for places to sleep in all the wrong places, including the top of a plastic slide in a playground. At about 3 a.m., I curled up on a portion of soft, thick grass. But an hour later, automatic sprinklers came on, drenching my feet. I sloshed to the edges of a wilderness park, where I finally found a generous-size wooden bench. I changed my socks and fell in and out of sleep for the next two hours, waking up to my own violent shivering.
Sleep deprivation haunts unhoused people, worsening the trauma that sometimes caused their unsheltered situations in the first place, as well as any mental and physical illnesses they have. Bobby Watts, chief executive officer of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, says that “sleeplessness in homelessness is a public health crisis.” more
“Historical adversity, which includes slavery, sharecropping and race-based exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources, translates into socioeconomic disparities experienced by African Americans today. Socioeconomic status, in turn, is linked to mental health: People who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated or have substance abuse problems are at higher risk for poor mental health.” – (Mental Health America, 2018)
African American men, incarceration rates are continuously questioned and our current criminal justice system for years now, has been labeled the New Jim Crow. Most African American men who have a history of incarceration, suffers from some type of mental health disorders. Our prisons and jails continues to be overcrowded and understaffed, which leads to more stress and violence from the inmates and the staff. African American men who are incarcerated are exposed to traumatic and violent experiences not only while they’re incarcerated, but even once they’ve been released, and are discriminated against, thereafter. more
A new case study involving a homeless man with schizophrenia highlights what happens when mental illness is “demedicalized,” or seen as falling outside the scope of medical care.
The article, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, discusses the case of a homeless California man who was a frequent visitor to a local emergency room. Six times over the course of a few months the man, who doctors had previously diagnosed with schizophrenia, presented with auditory hallucinations and suicidal thoughts after losing his medication. Each time, he was released back to the streets without extended psychiatric care.
The article argues that this case and countless others like it happen because many of the consequences of mental illness—including homelessness—have been demedicalized. All too often, as in the case of the California man, the criminal justice system ends up filling the void left by demedicalization, the authors say. The man they describe was later jailed on a felony charge. more
AS WE CELEBRATE and honor our veterans, I would like to take a moment to reflect on our homeless veterans.
As administrator of the HUD New England Region, and a fellow veteran, I am strongly committed to and passionate about ensuring that every person who has served our country and is seeking and in need of housing, has a place to live with the support he or she needs to succeed.
HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report finds the total number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2018 decreased nationally by 5.4 percent since last year, falling to nearly half of the number of homeless veterans reported in 2010. more