Learning Objectives

In this chapter, you are invited to critically engage with the complex relationship that exists between homelessness and mental health. While learning more about the research and lived reality, you are encouraged to reflect upon three key questions guiding this chapter’s learning objectives.


  1. We begin by examining the reported rates of mental illness by asking, ‚ÄúWhat is the prevalence of mental health issues for people who experience homelessness?‚ÄĚ The first section presents a question that is difficult to answer yet offers an opportunity to critically explore the range of mental health challenges that exist and the research that attempts to document them amongst individuals experiencing homelessness.


  1. Following the review of mental health related statistics, our attention turns to an investigation of the contributing factors that are guided by the question, ‚ÄúWhy is mental illness so high among people experiencing homelessness?‚ÄĚ In this section, we pause to truly consider the many reasons why homelessness can lead to poor mental health outcomes, and conversely why poor mental health outcomes can lead to homelessness. This is where the chicken meets the egg.


  1. In the final section our focus shifts to explore best practice approaches by asking the question, ‚ÄúWhat are the treatments that improve mental health, and do they work?‚ÄĚ Historically within Canada, there have been many approaches to dealing with mental illness, from early institutions to the rise of psychopharmaceuticals and modern community-based intensive support models. This section offers an opportunity to learn about these approaches and reflect on their applications for people experiencing mental illness and homelessness.


As you move through this chapter it is beneficial to keep in mind the complex nature of the relationship between homelessness and mental health. While not all individuals who experience homelessness will have a diagnosed condition, the experience of homelessness itself is a trauma that impacts mental wellness. Read on to learn more about the dynamic processes involved and the approaches that help.


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Understanding Homelessness in Canada Copyright © 2022 by Kristy Buccieri, James Davy, Cyndi Gilmer, and Nicole Whitmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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