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Reply #150: You are so right. People practically assume that homeless people are [View All]

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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-04-08 06:56 PM
Response to Reply #100
150. You are so right. People practically assume that homeless people are
mentally ill. That is false. What is more, you cannot compare the appearance and behavior of homeless people with that of people who have secure housing and enough income to live independently and provide for their own basic needs.

There are different forms of depression. Most of us go through a form of depression when we lose a loved one or even a pet or a job. We call it grief, and we trust that it will not be a permanent state. We don't define it as mental illness.

I worked with a facility that housed and provided services to homeless people for about eight years. Some homeless people were mentally ill. Most were not. Being homeless puts a person in a kind of state of grief. How can a person be homeless without being angry? How can a person be homeless without being depressed to at least some extent? Think of it. The person who does not have housing has to an incredibly difficult challenge just to stay safe, find some place to sleep each and every night and scrounge for food. On top of all that, the person is most likely looking for longer term solutions. Anyone would be overwhelmed facing such difficulties. That does not mean that the person is mentally ill. There is a huge difference.

Ascribing mental illness to all homeless people is the way that people justify ignoring homelessness. It's kind of like the famous reaction of Barbara Bush upon seeing the New Orleans refugees in the Texas Superdome. Without quoting her exact language, her attitude was, oh, well, these people are probably just fine here, since they are poor anyway. With the homeless, it's well they choose to be homeless and besides they are mentally ill so they can't be helped. It shifts responsibility for the lack of housing and financial support for the unemployed away from society and on to the homeless person.
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