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Needs for mental health care and service provision in single homeless people.

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  • 1Mental Health Services Research Unit, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany. salize@as200.zi-mannheim.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Specific problems in sampling methodology, case-finding strategies and a standardised needs assessment in mentally ill homeless people have contributed to their being neglected as a mental health care clientele.

METHOD:

We assessed a representative sample of homeless people (n=102) in the highly industrialised city of Mannheim (Germany) regarding their prevalence of mental disorders (using the SCID) and their needs for mental health care (using the NCA).

RESULTS:

We found high prevalences, with 68.6% of all assessed homeless persons having a current mental disorder. Thus, needs for mental health care were very common, with unmet needs predominating in all problem areas, which was supported by a very weak service utilization. Thus, even in a region with a comprehensive community mental health care network, like the study area, mentally ill homeless people are widely under-provided.

CONCLUSIONS:

Results suggest that the traditional shelter system for homeless people carries most of the mental health care burden for their clientele and must be supported by adequate interventions from community-based mental health care services. A closer connection of both sectors and a better co-ordination of the care offers seems to be a prerequisite for helping to reduce unmet mental health care needs in this specific high-risk group.

PMID:
11518035
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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