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MENTAL HEALTH & HOMELESSNESS

Most studies about mental health in the homeless do not make differentiations between the genders, so the following statistics are for homeless individuals in general not just women

76% of homeless individuals suffer from mental illness 1

They were most commonly diagnosed with:

  • 38% alcohol use disorders 1,2

  • 23% drug use disorders 1,2

  • 12% major depression 1,2

  • 12% Psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia 1,2

 

BUT THESE NUMBERS SEEM INCREDIBLY LOW TO US AND DO NOT INCLUDE ANXIETY, WHICH MANY WOMEN SUFFER FROM

One study that did look at gender differences between homeless women and men interviewed  those entering permanent supportive housing and found: 3

  • 85% of homeless women have chronic mental health issues

    • 69% of men homeless men have chronic mental health issues

  • 94% of homeless women had been diagnosed with chronic physical health issues

    • 88% of homeless men had been diagnosed with chronic physical health issues

  • 3 — number of diagnosed chronic mental health conditions of homeless women

    • 2 — number of diagnosed chronic mental health conditions of homeless men

1.    Gutwinski, S., et al. “The prevalence of mental disorders among homeless people in high-income countries: An updated systematic review and meta-regression analysis.” 2021. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003750  [Note: Article does not account for gender differentiation. In a review of 39 publications with a total of 8,049 made and female participants, the mean prevalence of any current mental disorder was estimated at 76.2%; the prevalence diagnostic categories were alcohol use disorders, at 36.7%; drug use disorders, at 21.7%; schizophrenia spectrum disorders 12.4%; major depression 12.6%]

2.    Fazel, S., Khosla, V., Doll, H., and Geddes, J. “The Prevalence of Mental Disorders among the Homeless in Western Countries: Systematic Review and Meta-Regression Analysis.” PLoS Med. 2008. 5(12) [Note: Article does not account for gender differentiation. In a review of 29 studies published between 1979 and 2005 including a total of 5,684 made and female individuals, the prevalence of major mental disorders among homeless in North America and Europe was found to be: Psychotic illness prevalence estimate of 12.7%; depression prevalence estimate of 11.4%; personality disorder prevalence estimate was 23.1%; alcohol dependence prevalence estimate was 37.9%; drug dependence prevalence estimate was 24.4%]

3.    Winetrobe, H., et al. “Differences in Health and Social Support between Homeless Men and Women Entering Permanent Supportive Housing.” Women’s Health Issues. 2017. 27(3): 286–293 [Interviewed 421 homeless adults moving into permanent supportive housing in the Los Angeles area and gender differences, including potential disparities in physical and mental health and social support]

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