Getting Help for Your Community
Two important challenges for many communities are preventing homelessness and preventing injuries and fatalities to civilians and law enforcement officers. The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania has shown leadership in confronting these challenges, as well as in promoting recovery from mental health issues and helping individuals who face such challenges live successfully in the community.
A fact sheet provided by the National Coalition for the Homeless http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Mental_Illness.pdf provides statistics on the incidence of mental illness among homeless people: between 20 percent and 25 percent of individuals who are homeless have serious mental illnesses, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In addition, half of those who are homeless and have mental illnesses also have substance use disorders. The fact sheet reports: “In a survey by the United States Conference of Mayors (2008), 20% of cities listed better coordination with mental health service providers as one of the top three items needed to combat homelessness.” In addition, access to safe, decent, affordable housing, including supported housing – which offers services including mental and physical health care, education and employment options, peer support, and training in daily living and financial management skills – can help people get off the streets and stay off the streets.
Housing First http://www.pathwaystohousing.org/content/our_model.html – in which people first receive housing and then are connected with treatment and supports – has been shown to be effective in helping break the cycle of homelessness.
The National Coalition for the Homeless notes: “Funding is available from various programs run by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD, as well as from the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) http://pathprogram.samhsa.gov/. Additionally, the United States Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February 2009, which includes $1.5 billion for homelessness prevention and re-housinghttp://www.recovery.gov/About/Pages/The_Act.aspx
The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania operates programs to help individuals in Southeastern Pennsylvania who have long-term histories of homelessness and mental illness come in from the cold. These programs include:
- ACCESS West Philly http://www.mhasp.org/services/programs.html;
- Homeward Bound http://www.mhasp.org/services/programs.html#homeward;
- Connect, Connect by Night
- Connect-to-Permanency, Delaware County
- Halfway There Halfway There - Montgomery County
Interactions between law enforcement and individuals with mental health challenges have led to tragedy. Following the death of a young man who had mental illness at the hands of a police officer in Memphis, Tenn., the Memphis community came together to develop an award-winning model of jail diversion and community policing that has saved lives and helped individuals receive treatment rather than incarceration http://cit.memphis.edu/AboutCIT.php , http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/51/10/1315. The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania was a leader in the advocacy initiative that resulted in the Philadelphia Police Department’s adoption of the Crisis Intervention Team model, which has also been instituted in numerous communities around the United States.
The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP) has been a leader in the movement to close state hospitals, including Philadelphia State Hospital and Haverford State Hospital; to help individuals released from these hospitals establish successful lives in the communityhttp://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/50/10/1297; and to effect Pennsylvania’s transformation from a hospital-dependent to a community-based mental health system. MHASP is also a partner in the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The TU Collaborative is devoted to promoting community integration for individuals with psychiatric disabilities (http://tucollaborative.org/).
For additional information, contact the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania at 215-751-1800 or 800-688-4226, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.