The research found that neither proposition was plausible. Fifteen per cent of the sample had mental health issues prior to becoming homeless, and 16 per cent developed mental health issues after becoming homeless. For those who had mental health issues prior to becoming homeless, it was the breakdown of family support that usually precipitated homelessness. For those who developed mental health issues after becoming homeless, it was often their experiences in the homeless population that precipitated mental illness. Regardless of whether mental illness preceded or followed homelessness, most people with mental health issues experienced long-term homelessness. The paper concludes with two policy recommendations.
This paper was presented at the 2009 Australian Social Policy Conference, University of New South Wales, 8-10 July, 2009.
Chris Chamberlain and Guy Johnson work at the Centre fore Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.