Individuals who are mentally ill and homeless suffer from the lack or limitation of resources available to them. These individuals are victimized and criminalized. Many homeless individuals on the street are sent to jail for vagrancy or substance abuse. They may also be mentally ill.
Since the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, the support system needed to help these individuals has not been established. Instead, these individuals are found frequenting the hospital and are often found in the prison system. They visit the emergency department or the psychiatric department for treatment and medication. These hospitals resources are often limited. They may be able to provide some medication to the patient, but not a long-term basis or outpatient basis. After leaving the hospital and returning to the streets, the individual may be victimized and his medication stolen. Without proper medication, the individual may commit crimes or may seem to be a threat to society, so is picked up by the police and sent to jail. This individual continues to cycle through the system, going between the streets, hospital, and jail.
Better support systems need to be available to the mentally ill. Well-funded community support and social safety nets need to be developed for the mentally ill so that they can live in the community with proper medication. Better access to medication is also important. If the homeless individual has to be at a shelter by 3 pm, he cannot go to the psychiatric department to pick up his 4:30 pm dosage. More affordable housing is also necessary to get these individuals off the street so they do not become victims of crime.
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