Can the Poor Really get their Addiction and Mental Health Needs Met?
An article in the UK’s The Guardian shares Steve’s story, the story of a homeless, alcoholic man who cannot gain access to England’s bureaucratic healthcare system and ultimately, instead of getting help, ends up in jail. Sadly, much the same thing happens in the United States. Those who seek care may not be able to get it. Because most treatment centers are not able to treat dual diagnosis patients, those who need care for psychological disorders and addiction will have to wait long periods for beds, if any are available at all.
Steve’s situation is not so different from what is experienced in the United States. Steve’s experience was horrible:
“Because of his alcoholism, no hostel would take him; but without the stability and shelter afforded by a hostel, he had little chance of recovery. Mental health services wouldn’t help until he’d recovered from the alcoholism; but the alcoholism was bound up with his mental health issues. There was institutionalised buck-passing – and without our group from the church trying to help him, he’d have been entirely alone.”
I receive emails and calls frequently from clergy and family members who are desperate for help for individuals they are working with who are denied care because of a lack of address, dual diagnosis, and other issues. What can be done?
The sad news is that while there are agencies and programs to support those in need, they can be incredibly difficult to access. There are also far too few beds for low-income dual-diagnosis individuals. In short, the resources don’t exist to match the need.
I don’t know what the solution is, but what I can say is don’t give up. When I am contacted, I do whatever I can to help those in need find a bed in an appropriate treatment center. If we all do what we can, we’ll be doing a lot.