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January 29, 2020

Psychiatry on the Streets—Caring for Homeless Patients

Author Affiliations
  • 1Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
JAMA Psychiatry. 2020;77(5):445-446. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.4706

Most people have homes. For the estimated 553 000 people in the United States who do not, grappling with mental illness only further disrupts their lives. They struggle with psychosis while navigating the harsh realities of living on the street. They experience posttraumatic stress disorder while sleeping in the crowded confines of a shelter. They battle opioid use disorder while lacking a stable place to recover. Traditionally stereotyped as men with alcohol problems, the modern-day homeless population encompasses a diverse group that includes women-led families, veterans, and LGBTQ youth who experience a range of mental illnesses.1 Few populations bear a greater psychiatric burden, and yet the role of psychiatrists in caring for the homeless population remains relatively neglected.

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