No one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or where they will sleep for the night, but unfortunately, it is a common reality for more than 500,000 Americans. When someone regularly goes without a meal or roof over their head, it can take a toll on their mental health.
Food insecurity and mental health
While hunger and food insecurity are closely related, they are distinct concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food. The inability to adequately provide the nutrients and care that one needs can result in depression, isolation, and a decline in mental health and overall well-being.
Homelessness and mental health
Mental health conditions are prevalent in homeless populations because of a lack of access to healthcare and other resources. According to York University’s Homeless Hub, homelessness amplifies poor mental health. The stress of experiencing homelessness may exacerbate previous mental illness and create anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness, and substance use. The needs of people experiencing homelessness with mental illness are similar to those without mental illness: physical safety, education, transportation, affordable housing, and affordable medical care. It is important to recognize that while mental health care is important, it is equally as important to address the basic needs of someone experiencing homelessness.
Life can impact you in ways you never expected, leading to challenges such as homelessness or food insecurity. As you look to overcome these challenges, there are resources to help.
Valley Oaks Health offers unique programming to provide support for those experiencing homelessness and/or food insecurity. The PATH program serves people who are experiencing homelessness in Tippecanoe County. The goal of the program is to make connections with individuals, assess their needs, and make needed referrals to address mental health, physical issues, housing, and entitlements. The Compass Program is a case management program for individuals who have previously been homeless but now have housing. The program works to connect individuals to needed services and maintain housing.