3. Mental Health

A hand-written statement reads: ‚ÄúWhen you are living on the streets you feeling like this, that you lost all control. There‚Äôs nowhere to go nobody love you or helps you. People look at you different. This needs to stop. We are all the same in this world.‚ÄĚ Below this statement there is a circle with a line through it that says ‚ÄúStop homelessness in Ontario and the world.‚ÄĚ Within the circle, a frown face rests underneath the words.
A life of judgement. My struggle shouldn’t define who I am as a human being
Artist: Jason Coombes

You have likely heard the age-old riddle, ‚ÄúWhat came first, the chicken or the egg?‚ÄĚ The same idea applies to the relationship between homelessness and mental distress. We know that, as a group, people who experience homelessness tend to have higher rates of mental illness. However, the experience of homelessness itself is one that contributes greatly to mental anguish. So, what comes first, homelessness or poor mental health? This chapter delves into the complicated relationship between mental health and homelessness, with an understanding that they are intricately connected in a way that often makes it difficult to tease apart.

As you work through this chapter, you are encouraged to question any preconceptions about mental illness and homelessness that you may have. Perhaps your image of a homeless person is a stereotypical one of a person pushing a shopping cart, talking to themself, while collecting bottles out of a trashcan. This notion, while a common one that is often depicted in the media, is a caricature without depth. Through this chapter, we will add dimension by taking a much deeper look at mental health and its relationship to homelessness.


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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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