Improving Access to Behavioral Health Services for Populations Facing Homelessness

Mental health can be viewed as both a cause and effect of homelessness. It is important to note that Serious Mental Illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and anti-social personality disorders are not the primary indicator that a person will experience homelessness throughout the course of their lifetime. When coupled with factors such as substance use, economic instability, limited access to affordable housing, health insurance, and health care providers, adverse childhood experiences, traumatic brain injuries, and societal and internalized stigma can disproportionately lead to episodic and chronic homelessness.  

Many people such as these will need supportive housing to successfully stabilize in the community. When serving  those experiencing homelessness, behavioral health providers need to keep in mind the need for:   

  • Flexibility, particularly in outreach and engagement strategies 
  • Partnerships with homeless and housing organizations 
  • The value of peers, especially as it relates to outreach strategies 
  • Financing that sustains their efforts 

 Health centers, primary and behavioral health service providers, and housing providers will learn about the research and evidenced based practices for serving this population.  The guide will cover the central role of peer support and outreach and engagement strategies.  Finally, the guide will cover the financing possibilities and challenges of supporting outreach and engagement efforts.  


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