Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Homelessness and untreated mental illness

Homelessness is one of the most visible consequences of our failure to provide timely and humane treatment to people with severe mental illnesses. Life in shelters or on the streets can be difficult for any person, but those who are homeless with untreated mental illness are at even greater risk for death, rape, and victimization.

Wilmington, North Carolina, is just one of many cities this year to witness a brutal assault or murder on a homeless citizen with severe mental illness (see
Preventable Tragedies to search for more). While two men are charged with murdering Joe Bradshaw, the local paper interviewed others about life on the streets:

Stacey Alston sees the way people look at him and knows what they're probably thinking. Disdain for the homeless is not a new attitude, and certainly not one confined to a narrow segment of society. But Alston and others eating lunch Monday at the Good Shepherd House shelter on Martin Street still cannot understand what would motivate a person to beat someone so severely that he later died.