Homelessness is a social construct based upon the central idea that poor socioeconomic factors drive the individual to homelessness. Although, it is correct, not only is it caused by economic and social factors, but also by substance abuse and poor mental health. These factors are effects of low socioeconomic environments; thus, lack of resources – healthcare, welfare, education, and mass incarceration. Consequently, being a ‘product’ of the environment that individual resided in. Additionally, being a minority within these upbringings worsens the situation due to the injustices within not only the healthcare system, but the judicial system as well.
Growing within a desolate environment drives some to the point of no return, inhibiting substance abuse habits and developing mental disorders – or worsening them. Now, the idea that solely socioeconomic status drives one to homelessness is curtailed; in fact, the consequences of poor environments are worse than the actual living situation. According to Nicolas Badre and Mari Janowsky, in their article on “Is homelessness a criterion for mental health treatment,” Homelessness presents significant challenges when contextualized in terms of symptoms of mental illness (Nicolas Badre and Mari Janowsky, p4). For example, within the interview, one of the conducted questions was “Do homeless people have enough resources?” John Doe – an anonymous source – mentioned the lack of resources for his community. “We aren’t able to go to the hospital as easily as the rest of the community and we are exposed to more crime than the regular population. Things like these drive us to crime related activity and decrease our chances for jobs. We are walled-up against a corner” (Doe, John. Personal Interview.) Due to the lack of resources, mental illnesses within that community skyrocket. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly one-fourth of the homeless population suffers from severe forms of mental illness. Meanwhile, only 6% of the Americans suffer from these severe mental illnesses (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). In addition to the lack of resources for the homeless there is also a lack of funding. These factors are pivotal to the upsurge in mental illnesses as a result of homelessness.
Furthermore, this misfortune within the homeless community along with the flawed and expensive healthcare system makes it nearly impossible for the needy to seek aid. In fact, mental health services tend to be difficult to access and poorly integrated with primary care (Trude S, Stoddard JJ, 18). Another crucial factor contributing to the steady decline in mental health within these lower socioeconomic populations is the exposure to homelessness and substance use disorders. Additionally, the study examined the utilization of the ER for patients within a 6 year period – using primary health diagnosis across California. The study hypothesized that patients with mental illness covered by Medicare or Medi-Cal (the state’s Medicaid insurance program), those who were concurrent substance users, and homeless patients would be more likely to have high ED utilization (EM, Jannsen). Due to the fact that studies are rely on retrospective data and are exposed to a set of limitations such as misclassification and other forms of bias, this study covered the entire state of California and is dependent on diagnosis codes. Ultimately, the substantial evidence supports the claims that patients with substance abuse diagnoses, homeless patients, and those covered by Medi-Cal, or the states Medicaid, are more likely to be frequent users of the emergency departments for mental illnesses. Therefore, this implies that substance abuse, housing, and socioeconomic conditions are crucial factors to consider in patients with high ED use for mental health necessities.
In addition to the extreme form of disadvantages adults face when being exposed to homeless, as do children. Homeless children often experience mental and physical health complications. For instance, being victims of abuse, – whether it be physical or mental – victimization, etc. and – much like adults – struggle to receive access to adequate health care and keep up with their education. Factors like those contribute to the incline in substance abuse and mental illnesses; these are all consequences of poor socioeconomic status. While it may be evident that economic and social expenditures of adolescent and adult homelessness are persistent, it is likely that adolescent homelessness is greater given the key investments during children’s formative years (GT Wodtke, 736).
. Consequently, linking these pathways of homelessness and employment outcomes within the adolescent’s adulthood. According to Deborah A. Cobb Clark and Anna Zhu, in their research on Childhood homelessness and Adult employment, “…we cannot completely rule out the possibility that the estimates underling our analysis of educational attainment, incarceration, and welfare dependence are confounded by omitted time varying factors, such as health shocks or maternal psychological well-being, related to childhood homelessness.” Therefore, regarding this as a descriptive exercise similar to the standard analysis typically conducted within labor and economics. In fact, being homeless throughout your adolescent life appears to play an important role in becoming part of the U.S justice system within your adulthood (PM Miller, 18). Consequently, decreasing the chances of employment for these children entering adulthood, leading them right back to the point in which they started; it is a cycle.
Moreover, there are disparities and stigmatized identities associated with homelessness and race. According to Diane M. Quinn and Carolyn Weisz’s study, racial and ethnic homeless groups of adults are studied to examine the relationship between homelessness and psychological distress, physical health, avoidance of services, and its link with race. For instance, conspicuous racial disparities in homelessness make these burdens of social and judicial institutionalization and imperatives more evident. Stigma is a broad concept encompassing negative stereotypes, labeling, antipathy, avoidance, discrimination, dehumanization, exploitation, and harm directed toward persons based on devalued personal or social characteristics (Goffman, 67). For instance, in the U.S the Department of Housing and Urban Development has recorded a large and persistent increase of racial minorities, specifically African Americans and Native Americans, among people who are homeless. Roughly 1.5 million people in the United States who used shelters or transitional housing over the course of a year, 41.4% were African American (compared with about 13% of the total U.S. population) and 2.7% were American Indian or Alaska Native (Penner, 47). The experience of discrimination and Black-White health Evidently, these disparities showcase the stigma and association within race, ethnicity, economic status and homelessness.
The social construct of homelessness is directly affected by ones social and economic factors. But, it also includes ones mental health, substance abuse – for whom it may apply to – childhood development, incarceration, welfare, physical health and race. The contribution of these poor environments in an individual’s life shapes the aftermath; it makes them a “product of their environment.” Due to the lack of resources and mental health issues homeless people face within their life, these numbers increase. The lack of medical attention and aid to these people further affects them. Consequently, leading them to higher exposure levels of criminal activity, etc. Additionally, levels of education and childhood development contribute to these factors as well. Ultimately, while these disparities are present, the judicial and healthcare system requires a reform in order to decrease these numbers of homeless people within the U.S. Institutionalized racism and ethnic disparities contribute to the statistics as well. There are so many factors that come in to homelessness. For the humans who want these factors to improve or even disappear, All the can do is hope that as a community everyone rises and does the best they can to create better opportunities and help improve many people’s lives.
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