The ‘Crushing’ Cycle of Homelessness and Mental Illness

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When Janet Smith, an alumna of Breaktime, speaks about her past experience with homelessness, she describes a personal battle complicated by mental illness:

“I am fighting a fight every day. I fight it every day because it catches up with me every day, but I'm glad that I didn't let it control me. And that's why I'm here.”

In the United States, people experiencing homelessness are disproportionately affected by severe mental illness: 25% of people experiencing homelessness suffer from a serious mental illness, while only 6% of the general population is severely mentally ill.

Janet says homelessness had “crushing” effects on her struggles with anxiety and depression. “It took a real turn for my mental health,” she explains. “I felt that nobody wanted to help me, nobody wanted to do anything for me. I didn't want to do anything for myself.”