Home > Mental illness among the homeless: prevalence study in a Dublin homeless hostel.

Prinsloo, Bernice and Parr, Catherine and Fenton, Joanne (2012) Mental illness among the homeless: prevalence study in a Dublin homeless hostel. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine , 29 , (1) , pp. 22-26.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of mental illness among the residents of a homeless hostel in inner city Dublin.

Method: A cross-sectional survey was carried out among hostel residents, as previous studies have indicated that homeless hostel-dwelling men in Dublin constitute the largest single grouping of homeless Irish people. All agreeable residents were interviewed by the authors over an eight-week period using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) Clinical Version. For each disorder, the current (30-day) and past prevalence was determined.

Results: A total of 38 residents were interviewed, resulting in a response rate of 39.2% for the study. A total of 81.6% of residents had a current Axis I diagnosis; this number increased to 89.5% when combining current and past diagnoses. Only four residents had no diagnosis. There was considerable comorbidity between disorders, with a significant number of residents experiencing both mental illness and substance use problems. When considering lifetime diagnoses, 31.6% had a single diagnosis only; 57.9% had two/more diagnoses. Twelve residents (31.6%) had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital during their lifetime. The most prevalent disorders during the past month were Alcohol Dependence (23.7%), Opioid Dependence and Major Depressive Disorder (both 18.4%), Opioid Abuse and Alcohol-Induced Depression (both 7.9%). Only 23.7% of interviewed residents were attending psychiatric or addiction services. A significant number of residents who did not wish to participate in the study were identified by hostel staff as having a confirmed psychiatric diagnosis.

Conclusion: The survey demonstrated a very high prevalence of mental disorders among homeless hostel residents. The high prevalence of dual diagnosis highlights the need for greater collaboration between psychiatric services and addiction The outcome also points to the importance of providing mental health training to emergency shelter/hostel staff. Research into the mental health status of the homeless should be undertaken regularly if services are to be planned to meet the needs of this vulnerable group.


Item Type:Article
Page Range:pp. 22-26
Publisher:College of Psychiatry of Ireland
Subjects:G Health and disease > State of health > Mental health
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Problem substance use
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Care by type of problem > Mental health care
MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Social condition > Homelessness
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland > Dublin
B Substances > Alcohol
G Health and disease > Substance related disorder > Substance related mental disorder
G Health and disease > Substance use disorder > Alcohol use > Alcohol dependence
T Demographic characteristics > Homeless person
B Substances > Opioids (opiates)
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Substance use behaviour

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