Posts Tagged Mental health

A Matter of Circumstances; giving spare change may not help the homeless

defAccording to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the federal definition homelessness is a person who sleeps in a place not meant for human habitation. This includes people who sleep on the streets, in a car, in a park, and also includes people sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing. In an effort to identify the severity of homelessness and determine the amount of federal funds needed to address this issue, HUD compiles statistics each year to prepare a report for Congress. The latest report determined in January 2014, there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness on a given night. Most (69 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and the rest (31 percent) were found in unsheltered locations. Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people were children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 135,701). These statistics also include 49,933 homeless veterans who served in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Homelessness in the United States is a complex problem with a wide range of causes. These causes include mental health issues, loss of employment, fleeing from domestic abuse, addiction, returning military veterans, and victims of natural disasters. Regardless of cause, those who are homeless suffer one of two different situations: chronically homeless and temporary homelessness.
faceChronically homeless is defined by HUD as a person who has been homeless for twelve consecutive months or has had four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. The majority of these people have become chronically homeless because of a disabling condition. HUD defines a disabling condition as a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, a serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability, including the co-occurrence of two or more of these conditions. In addition, a disabling condition limits an individual’s ability to work or perform one or more activities of daily living. Many chronically homeless individuals either don’t have the resources to bath, or because of a mental health issue, are not concerned about hygiene. Due to their appearance the chronically homeless have become the face of homelessness in the United States.
graphicTemporary homelessness is an episode of homelessness that doesn’t last more than twelve consecutive months. HUD defines an episode of homelessness as a separate, distinct, and sustained stay on the streets and/or in a homeless emergency shelter. These are people who have suffered some type of setback or tragic event like loss of employment, foreclosure, loss of a loved one, or a medical condition that has depleted all their funds and could no longer pay rent or buy food. One of the toughest challenges for this homeless population is making every attempt to not look homeless. They must make extra efforts to do laundry, practice good hygiene, and maintain a presentable appearance. This includes bathing in a restroom sink at a library or gas station to prepare for job interviews or other important appointments. If they are successful in these attempts individuals experiencing temporary homelessness to do appear to be homeless.

Current statistics published by HUD indicate some progress has been made in America’s attempt to address homeless causes and issues. Chronic homelessness among individuals declined by 3 percent (or 2,164) over the past year, and by 30 percent (or 36,197) between 2007 and 2014. Homelessness among veterans declined by 33 percent (or 24,117) between 2009 and 2014
subThere is something you can do to help the homeless in your area and it may sound strange; do not give money to homeless people who are panhandling. If you want to help you might be doing more good by volunteering or making a contribution to an organization in your city that serves homeless populations.

Not giving money to homeless individuals may seem like a lack of compassion, but addiction is a leading cause of homelessness. Giving money, even spare change, could actually be causing more harm than good. If that individual you gave money to is suffering with addiction issues chances are the money you gave could go toward the purchase of drugs or alcohol and not food. Also if you engaged in dialogue with an individual suffering from a mental health issue, there is a possibility their behavior could be unpredictable and could put you at risk.
childrenYou may think charitable acts of giving money to homeless individuals are good intentions that help reduce the problems that confront them, but this may not be the case. Assisting an organization that serves homeless populations is a much more effective and safer way you can help. People who work at social service agencies are case managers, social workers, nurses, and doctors who deal with homelessness on a daily basis. They’re aware of the causes, issues, and challenges of homeless individuals and families. They know what issues are the most acute, and know how to deal with unpredictable behavior that might be the result of a mental health issue.

When you volunteer or make a contribution to a social service agency you’re getting more bang for your buck. This will accomplish more than just giving money to homeless who solicit in public places.  Your efforts will increase the resources trained professionals need to effectively identify causes and help homeless individuals and families with food, programs, and resources.

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Homeless in America; we can fix this

The National Alliance to End Homelessness claims on any night in the United States 640,000 people experience homelessness. To better understand “Homeless” we must first define the term. That is not an easy task because homelessness is a complicated issue. Certain criteria must be met for a person to be considered homeless. To best define the term in simple words, homelessness means an individual or family must sleep in a structure not suitable for human habitation, such as cars, sidewalks, parks or abandoned buildings. This also includes individuals who are scheduled to be released from an intuition, treatment program, or hospital within 30 days and no plan for housing in place. This definition is brief at best. For a more information you can go to the US Department of Health and Human Services website.

Do these people look homeless? Actually some of them may be. A segment of America's homeless population are facing the challenge of not looking homeless

Do these people look homeless? Actually some of them may be. A growing segment of America’s homeless population are must face the challenge of not looking homeless while searching for employment.

We can’t talk about the topic of homelessness without first mentioning the Homeless American Veteran. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reports close to 60,000 veterans are homeless. Nearly half of them served in Vietnam. Many other homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. At this point in time, younger homeless veterans make up about eight per cent of the homeless veteran population, but that number is increasing.

There are several circumstances that cause homelessness, but those who become homeless fall into one of two categories; transitional and chronic. It’s estimated that the chronically homeless make up the largest portion of America’s homeless population. The majority of these individuals surfer from some type of mental health issue. Mental health also includes addiction.

Those who are transitional homeless are currently experiencing homelessness for the first time and make up smaller number of America’s homeless. On average, they can regain some type of suitable housing within 12 to 18 months. One of their biggest challenges is trying to not look homeless. It is typical for them to bathe in public restrooms to prepare for appointments and job interviews. This segment of America’s homeless population has the ability to be retrained and acquire marketable skills.

Homeless graphWhile those who are transitional homeless make every attempt to not look homeless, those who are chronically homeless are highly visible on American streets and present with the biggest challenge in attempting to overcome homelessness. These individuals need additional resources that would include some form of treatment to address issues that made them homeless. It is important that our society address the issue of the chronically homeless, but if we also turn attention to the transitional homeless with a different goal in mind, we could reduce homeless statistics and better improve America’s standing in the world in manufacturing and technology.

Children homelessThere is no doubt the United States needs to retrain its workforce. Once a world leader in manufacturing, America now trails behind several other countries. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that America imports more than it exports. America needs to develop and manufacture products the world needs and we have the potential to do that.

Here is just one example of an opportunity the United States has to increase manufacturing and technology within its own borders; Rare Earth Metals are used for making anything electronic from cell phones to TVs. The continental United States has about 14 rare earth mines, some of the largest deposits of rare earth metals in the world are right here. Once we mine rare earth metals, the United States has to ship them to China to be manufactured because we don’t know how. Yet we have so many people who have the ability and desperately want to be retrained and gain long-term employment.

Shelter useAddressing the Homeless issue in America will require more than a quick fix because it is a complicated issue. However, it is possible to significantly reduce homeless statistics in general if we create resources for those who have the ability to be retained. We can’t expect the government to do all of the work; we must also look to American corporations to institute programs, maybe even with tax incentives, which will hire and re-train the American worker. “Investing in America” is not just a cliché. It appears we have not been doing that lately and look where we are.

This proposal of identifying the employable segment of our population and retraining them with marketable skills is not a new concept; America has done this before with a high degree of success. We must look at our history and examine those programs that did work to re-employ people, update them and make them adoptable to the needs of a modern-day economy, and reinstitute them. When we Americans reduce our homeless population, we will strengthen our middle class and enhance our own sustainably.

, , , ,

1 Comment

Effectively Managing Stress

Urban Life: Your daily dose of sensory overload.

Stress can be a double-edged sword; constructive in some situations and destructive in others. It can be motivation to get certain task accomplished, and at the same time, prohibit us from doing more. Often stress is taken for granted until it manifests into tangible symptoms like headaches, digestive problems or trouble sleeping. Multi-tasking has become a way of life for most people. But those activities like juggling phone calls while checking work e-mails and running errands, or watching exciting TV before bed are only some of the stress you must deal with.

Combine that with the stress you have no control over. The barking dogs, traffic jams, and relationship or family demands are also factors which make up your daily dose of stressful sensory overload. It’s no wonder many people commonly feel a great deal of anxiety and frustration. To meet the demands of modern life, you may not be able to reduce the amount of stress in the course of your day. But there are some simple things you can do to help you better deal with that stress.

From the time wake up, till the time you go to sleep, your senses are constantly bombarded by stimuli. Modern technology has given us instant communication. However that luxury greatly reduces your time of solitude. Make time without distractions to be with yourself. Make this your time to regroup and take an inventory of your feelings and reflect. This time can also give you a chance to step outside of yourself and look in.

Exercise may increase your ability to manage stress. Getting the closest parking spot may be convenient, but parking further from that destination and walking that extra distance can be healthier. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. This is also good cardio exercise. Instead of using your iPod when you go to the gym, try mediation instead.

Nutrition is an important means of helping the body better deal with stress. Fast foods may be convenient, but they can make you feel sluggish. Eating well-balanced meals everyday will provide the fuel you need to function at your best. You don’t have to spend a lot of time reading labels to accomplish this. There’s a very simple more effective way to eat healthier. Most supermarkets are generally laid out in the same fashion, with healthier foods in their natural form situated on the outside, and highly process refined sugars located on the aisles in the middle. Limit your trips up and down the aisles and choose items you can look at to know what they are.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you have an opportunity to delegate task, it may be to your advantage to do so. This will reduce stress, and allow you to prioritize and concentrate on the items with more significance.  You may find that you are able to do a better more effective job with some things than just an ok job at everything.

Allow yourself a cooling off period before you go to bed. Surfing the internet or watching suspense TV may cause stimulation that could make it harder to fall asleep or even keep you awake. Reading before you go to sleep is a good way to provide yourself a de-escalation period.

“Thoughts are things”, is an old adage that has some credence. Take an inventory of your thoughts because that internal dialogue that is negative can cause stress. Focus on your accomplishments and the positive events of your day. Some people cannot tolerate uncertainty and are tend to worry. This can be a source of anxiety or tension. Thinking about what might go wrong does nothing to make life more certain. Dealing with the present events instead of the worse possible scenario may reduce stress and increase a good outcome.

Stress is how our bodies respond to the events that upset that sense of balance. This includes both the negative and positive things in daily life. Life changes that force you to adjust can be stressful like moving, changing jobs entering a new or ending a relationship. For the most part, stress is part of life and cannot be avoided. But how we deal with that stress can determine just how much of an effect it can have in our lives. Take charge and control stress. Don’t let stress control you.

 

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: