Homelessness - Mental Health/Addiction

"But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God." - Luke 9:42b-43a

In the time of Jesus, many people came to him for healing from demons or unclean spirits. The symptoms described in these biblical passages sound very similar to what doctors today diagnose as epilepsy, bi-polar disorder, or even schizophrenia. The medications and treatments we have for these conditions today simply did not exist 2,000 years ago, and being healed from them would have been miraculous indeed. Even with modern medicine, mental illness and addiction can be very hard to treat and nearly impossible to cure.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one-third of people who are homeless have serious mental illnesses, and more than one-half also have substance abuse disorders. Though in some cases, substance abuse can lead to homelessness, more often than not, a person who becomes homeless due to other circumstances may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their situation. And without proper treatment, people with mental illness may resort to self-medicating - using drugs or alcohol to calm the fears that often haunt them.

The good news is that people who are homeless and have mental illness are more likely to recover through supported housing programs - housing that offers services like mental health treatment, life skills classes, and employment support. Supportive housing has helped men like Tim get off and stay off the streets...see more of his story in the video below.

Questions to Consider:

  • How do problems with mental health/addiction create barriers to housing?
  • How might being homeless exacerbate mental health/addiction issues?
  • What stigmas do we attach to those who struggle with mental health/addiction?
  • Do we view addiction as a disease, or simply as a weakness in character?
  • What aspects of Tim's story resonate with you?

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