• Asha Creary

Mental Illness: The Homelessness Pipeline

Updated: Nov 3

Homelessness is at an all time high, with major cities like Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, and many more reporting a spike in their homeless populations.

From the outside, most articles shedding light on homelessness are from an inflation perspective or through a housing crisis lens. In today’s article, I'm going to speak on homelessness from a mental health perspective.

Homelessness has been on the rise since the 1970’s due to the deinstitutionalization of the mental illness population and a number of other reasons like HIV/AIDs, federal budget cuts, a lack of affordable housing, and rise in the crack cocaine epidemic.

According to Psychiatric Times, homelessness and mental illness has proven to be correlated, so let's approach the topic from a clinical perspective.

In the past, those struggling with mental health related issues were institutionalized, so the homeless population was not nearly as prevalent because they had an asylum to remain in.

Of course we can get into the ethics of institutionalizing those with mental illness, but we'll leave that for another blog.

As a licensed therapist, I've found that my clients often do not know what their rights are regarding mental health and time off. I bring this up because it will best help to describe one way to prevent homelessness as we continue.

According to the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees have the right for leave due to a mental health related disorder up to 12 weeks. And while small businesses may fall under FMLA rule exemptions, for the sake of this piece we will envision large corporations with more than 100 employees.