Homelessness and Mental Health

Homelessness and Mental Health
7 min read

Homelessness has been a problem for centuries, with records of people living on the streets dating back to ancient times. However, the scale of the problem has increased in modern times due to various factors, including economic inequality, the lack of affordable housing, and social stigma. In response to this growing problem, governments and organizations worldwide have implemented policies addressing homelessness. These policies vary significantly depending on the region, with some countries adopting a more supportive approach to homelessness while others focus on punitive measures (Olivet et al., 2019). One example of a supportive approach is the Housing First model, which prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless individuals without requiring them to meet specific criteria or undergo treatment. This approach has successfully reduced homelessness in several regions, including Canada and the United States. In contrast, punitive measures are often used to address homelessness in regions where homelessness is viewed as a criminal offense. For example, in some areas, homeless individuals may be fined or arrested for sleeping in public spaces. These policies fail to handle the underlying causes of homelessness and worsen mental health issues among the homeless population. Hire Professional Essay Writers


Several challenges must be overcome to address homelessness and mental health effects from a social work perspective. The most significant barriers include the lack of affordable housing, often forcing individuals to live on the streets or in inadequate housing. Also, the social stigma associated with homelessness and mental health can prevent homeless individuals from accessing support services, leading to further isolation and marginalization. The inadequacy of funding for health services related to mental aspects and support programs is also a significant challenge, with many governments and organizations failing to allocate adequate resources to address these issues (Kerman & Sylvestre, 2020). Therefore, social workers must consider the unique circumstances from a micro perspective to meet the needs of each homeless individual with mental health challenges. This includes evaluating their health aspects related to mental outcomes, substance use, physical, trauma history, and housing and financial situation. Also, at the mezzo level, social workers must collaborate with other service providers, such as healthcare professionals, housing agencies, and community organizations, to mitigate the sophisticated needs of homeless persons with mental health challenges (Zufferey & Parkes, 2019). This includes coordinating care, advocating for resources and policies that support affordable housing and mental health services, and providing training and education to increase understanding and reduce stigma around homelessness and mental health. (Order for Homework Help)

Lastly, from a macro perspective, social workers must address systemic issues contributing to homelessness and mental health challenges. This includes advocating for policy changes addressing affordable housing and mental health funding and addressing structural inequalities and discrimination contributing to poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to quality education and healthcare (Zufferey & Parkes, 2019). Social workers must also engage in research and evaluation efforts to identify effective interventions and strategies for preventing and addressing homelessness and mental health challenges.

Value and Theory

Homelessness and mental health are complex and intersect with many social work-related values, such as respect for diversity, human rights, and social justice. Homelessness and mental health are a matter of social concern and a reflection of our social work values. Social workers are guided by core values that include social justice, human rights, and respect for diversity. These values inform our understanding of the needs and experiences of homeless individuals, especially those who struggle with mental health issues. Social workers must also reduce the stigma associated with homelessness and mental health and promote a more inclusive and supportive society (Novik et al., 2022). These values include a commitment to social justice and advocating for fairness and equality in distributing resources and opportunities. Social workers also uphold the principle of human rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals and their entitlement to certain basic needs, such as housing, healthcare, and social support. Therefore, social workers value diversity and recognize the importance of promoting a more inclusive and supportive society.

The study of homelessness and mental health is complex and multifaceted, with numerous theories and perspectives attempting to explain the phenomenon. The prominent way of categorizing these theories is by distinguishing between individual-focused and structural theories (Silva Brito, 2019). In this case, individual-focused theories highlight the function of personal factors in leading to homelessness and health issues related to mental aspects, such as addiction, mental illness, and trauma. These theories often prioritize the individual's responsibility and agency in their situation, emphasizing the need for personal interventions and treatments. Also, structural theories take a broader perspective and consider the societal and economic factors that contribute to homelessness and mental health issues (Moya et al., 2021). These theories recognize that personal factors are intertwined with larger systemic issues, such as impoverishment, unemployment, and inadequacy of cheap housing. Structural theories often emphasize the need for systemic change and policy interventions to address these larger issues (Silva Brito, 2019). Therefore, individual-focused and structural theories offer different perspectives on the causes and solutions of homelessness and mental health issues; many experts agree that a comprehensive approach that considers both personal and systemic factors is necessary to fully understand and address the complex issue.


In conclusion, the relationship between homelessness and mental health is a complex and multifaceted issue affecting millions worldwide. Both issues are interconnected and can profoundly impact an individual's well-being. The macro perspective highlights the role of social and economic structures in perpetuating homelessness and mental health problems. The mezzo perspective recognizes the need for systemic change to address the root causes of these issues and advocates for policies that promote affordable housing, access to healthcare, and social services. The micro perspective is centered on building relationships with clients and providing personalized support and advocacy to address the underlying issues contributing to homelessness and mental health problems. Social work plays a crucial role in addressing the challenges that arise from the intersection of homelessness and mental health. By exploring the causes and consequences of these issues and examining possible interventions and approaches, social workers can empower individuals and families experiencing homelessness and mental health problems to access resources and services and push for their rights and activities, leading to the development of a better society.


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