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July 25, 1986

The Homeless Mentally IIIThe Perspective of the American Psychiatric Association

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles (Dr Lamb), and University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore (Dr Talbott).

JAMA. 1986;256(4):498-501. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380040072032

The homeless mentally ill have become one of the greatest problems of present-day society. The American Psychiatric Association's Task Force on the Homeless Mentally III concluded that this is not the result of deinstitutionalization per se but of the way it has been carried out; homelessness among the chronically and severely mentally ill is symptomatic of the grave problems facing them generally in this country. Thus, the problem will not be solved until the basic underlying problems are addressed and a comprehensive and integrated system of care for the chronically mentally ill is established. Specific recommendations of the Task Force include an ample range of graded, supervised community housing; comprehensive and accessible psychiatric care and rehabilitation; the availability of general medical assessment and care, crisis services, and a dependable source of income; a system of case management in which one mental health worker is responsible for each patient; changes in commitment laws to make them more responsive to clinical needs; coordination between the various community resources; and ongoing asylum and sanctuary for that small proportion who require it.

(JAMA 1986;256:498-501)