May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’d like to take a few blog posts and talk about mental illness and the ways it links to homelessness. Many residents who come to work our program here at MATS suffer from some type of mental illness, whether it be anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc; and often, these disorders have contributed to their situation.
In addition, a large portion of people who are not able to enter into our program suffer from undiagnosed or unmedicated mental illness. Because we allow whole families (including children of all ages) to stay at MATS, someone dealing with something like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder without proper medication could pose a risk to the safety of our residents. Not only that, but it is unlikely they would be able to successfully work the program without first receiving the proper treatment.
So, why is mental illness connected to homelessness?
When symptoms are present, mental disorders begin to disrupt the affected individual’s life little by little. It may start out small – a slight change in attitude, a missed meeting, a disconnected relationship. But left untreated, symptoms will grow to the point that an individual may be unable to keep a job and end up burning bridges in relationships with people who may have been able to help them. At that point, it becomes easy for the situation to spiral out of control.
In later posts, we will discuss specific disorders and their unique challenges. Please follow along with us, because being able to spot warning signs in others, or even yourself, could make all the difference in seeking treatment early!