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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.



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.


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).


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.


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.

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