Story at a glance
- Mental health services are usually accessed through clinics and hospitals.
- People with precarious housing conditions may not be able to obtain appropriate psychological treatment.
- Street psychiatrists are a growing group of mental health professionals who work with community groups to reach those in need in cities across the United States.
A growing area of psychiatry, called Street Psychiatry Or street medicine, in the United States in many metro areas such as BostonAnd the Auckland and Los Angeles. Neighboring programs such as one in Portland Trained responders to help with non-life-threatening mental health and behavioral issues send 911 related calls.
One of the few ways people can get psychological treatment is by going to the emergency room or department of a hospital. The patient may get their prescribed medications during the emergency room visit, but once they leave there is no follow-up to running out of the medication.
The patient’s vision in a clinical setting is also different from what he or she sees in their everyday environment. “You see two different versions of the patient,” said psychiatrist Cheyenne Rabe, who leads the team of psychiatrists and psychiatrists. Los Angeles Times. “When we work with an individual on the street, we see how the individual lives in the community, and what the realities of his environment are.”
The goal is to get people involved in residential programmes, but a critical first step is to find out where they are through outreach teams and social workers. Rab’s psychiatry team in Los Angeles collaborates with teams of outreach workers, social workers, nurses, and substance abuse counselors from homeless outreach and mobile engagement in Los Angeles County (Homepage) a program.
Non-domesticated people and those experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to mental health conditions, as well as to food insecurity and other needs.
“These vulnerable and inseparable individuals struggle to secure adequate food, clothing, and shelter due to their mental illness,” states the HOME website.
In addition, they may have serious deficits in hygiene and communication, and generally severely avoid services. “They are unable to live safely in the community and need specialized mental health services to secure and sustain housing,” the site says.
Street psychiatrists fill a gap for this group of people, who are less likely to have access to services, especially if they are far from where the services are.
Street psychiatrist Catherine Koh of Boston Health Care’s Homeless Program and Massachusetts General Hospital told the Los Angeles Times, “I would argue that a small number of residents have a greater psychological burden than homeless people, but given the sheer size, there is little a lot of resources to treat them.”
Some individuals may really need help and want to find shelter but may need some persuasion to get into a care facility. “I was wit my end. I was tired of getting high. I was tired of not taking my medicine, because I wasn’t normal,” someone named Alvin told the Guardian. University of California San Francisco. Another person told the university that getting dental care gave him “higher self-esteem” he needed to finally go to a clinic for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and later found a palliative.
Rapp notes that street psychiatrists can follow up and provide pharmacological support to their patients, sometimes even helping them get housing. By dealing with people in need wherever they are and providing psychiatric services to them, it increases the chances of these patients getting the care they need.