Chronic Mental Illnesses and Homelessness

Chronic Mental Illnesses and Homelessness

Prerna Kukreti (Jamia Hamdard University, India), Prerna Khanna (Pushpanjali Crosslay Hospital, India) and Amit Khanna (IHBAS, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0519-8.ch001


Homelessness is a complex socio-economic problem complicated by individual attributes and risk factors. The burning issue of homelessness has been a subject of concern in the modern day world often stretching the existing administrative system to innovate and design models for managing the same. With the changing definitions of homelessness, the estimates have also varied across cultures and countries. Because of the inherent difficulty in studying homelessness, accurate estimates of the number of homeless are lacking. Most studies in the West report that approximately 288 per 10,000 people are homeless. With the accurate data on homelessness lacking, the estimates of mental illness amongst homeless is even more obscure. The prevalence of mental illness amongst homeless is higher than that compared to the general population. Researchers have theorized various stressors related to homelessness as precipitating factors of mental illness. There is dearth of literature on mental illness in homeless population which is representative of the homeless population at a national level.
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Concept Of Homelessness

Defining homelessness has long been a topic of debate, but international agreement is elusive and most of the definitions of homelessness in use across the world are not conceptually grounded. Like poverty and unemployment, homelessness is also a relative concept, which “acquires meaning only in relation of the housing conventions of a particular culture” (Chamberlain & Johnson, 1992). Edgar, Doherty and Meert (2003) developed a conceptual model for European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion (ETHOS), they defined “adequate housing” as per following parameters (Edgar et al., 2003; Edgar et al., 2009):

  • Physical Domain: Having a decent dwelling (or space) adequate to meet the needs of the person and his/her family,

  • Social Domain: Being able to maintain privacy and enjoy social relations, and

  • Legal Domain: Having exclusive possession, security of occupation and legal title.

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