Living without permanent housing has harmful effects on the body and mind of the individual. Homelessness has implications on emotional, cognitive, and physical health. Homeless individuals have to deal with situations that is hard for those who live in homes wouldn’t even think of. Some negative effects that accompany homelessness are not as directly observable as others.
Living without permanent shelter complicates even the simplest of necessary tasks as each day brings a new struggle to find a shelter to sleep, food, bathrooms, places to stay during the day and other services they may need to secure survival. Living on the streets also increases exposure to criminal activity, drug abuse and violence which adds to the daily stresses experienced by a person. The stressors accumulates and becomes too difficult to manage resulting in overwhelm and dysfunction. If experienced for long enough time, these conditions can result in serious mental and physical health problems.
Health problems take a lot of attention and energy to deal with and can quickly become the central focus of someone’s life which distracts him or her from finding employment, building relationships, finding government assistance, and taking the economic steps to finding a way out of homelessness. Health and housing are intricately linked. Living in harsh conditions on the streets or in shelters, people are closer to violence, drug use, contagious diseases, malnutrition and most critically, stressful or even traumatic experiences. This constant exposure to stress can cause people to turn to substances leading to dependence. trauma, depression and other mental health problems. Poor health and homelessness have a bidirectional relationship. Poor health causes homelessness, and being homeless reinforces and worsens poor health conditions.
Homeless individuals have a higher risk for a number of physical and mental illnesses. Comboritiy is high as well. Further, homelessness complicates the treatment of many illnesses.