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Study: Rate Of Homeless With Mental Illness Higher Than Expected
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 4, 2005

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA--Nearly one out of every six Americans with serious mental illness is currently homeless, a team of California researchers has revealed.

The researchers from the University of California, San Diego's School of Medicine followed 10,340 people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression in San Diego County over a one year period. They found that 15 percent were homeless. That is a far higher number than previous believed.

"Homelessness is more common in patients with serious mental illness than I would have guessed," said David Folsom, M.D., one of the study's authors.

Studies have been done before on the percentage of homeless people who have a serious mental illness, but this is thought to be one of the first to look at the percentage of people with serious mental illness that are homeless. It appears in this month's issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The UCSD team found that people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and those who do not have publicly funded health care, such as Medicaid, were most at risk for homelessness. Blacks with mental illness were more likely to be homeless than Hispanics or Asians, and men were more likely than women to be without housing.

The study also found that those who were homeless were much more likely to use emergency services, to be hospitalized for their disabilities, and to be jailed.

The study's authors concluded that access to health care, particularly substance abuse treatment, is critical for this population.

Related:
UCSD Study Abstract (American Journal of Psychiatry)
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/162/2/370
"Press release: More Homeless Mentally Ill Than Expected According to UCSD Study" (University of California, San Diego)
http://health.ucsd.edu/news/2005/02_01_Jeste.html
National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness
http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov

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