Grand Master Scribe Olorinus wrote:
No, there really is a link between mental illness and homelessness. It really isn't accurate to portray it as a "choice" - the word choice is overused and misunderstood - because it ignores the fact not everyone has the same capacity to make good choices.
What I was talking about, and what annoys me, is when it's assumed all of them have an illness. Some people really choose to be homeless or something similar, living "off of the grid." Yeah, your numbers show a link between homelessness & other illnesses, but there's not a "Homelessness illness" they all share. Not all people with health problems become homeless, not all people with addictions become homeless.
Not all people who play too many video games have an illness....
I agree they don't all have an illness and I have met a small number of "by choice" homeless people. I have also been homeless myself before (sort of by choice - but more by making bad decisions and not realizing their outcomes... and in one case by making a good decision which had an immediate bad effect). However when 80+ per cent of a demographic has health/addiction/mental health problems one needs to consider that the members of that demographic are probably not there fully by choice. One has to ask WHY are there so many more homeless people with these characteristics than in the rest of the population? The answer is these characteristics are risk factors which can influence the path people go down.
Again, the issue of choice is overhyped. Choice is never an absolute - it is always dictated by circumstance. For example Americans "chose" to have Obama as president - but in reality it wasn't a full choice - for most Americans Obama is a compromise at best, just like every other president. One makes choices based on:
a) innate ability (or lack thereof) to determine the risks and rewards associated with each action
b) choices available at the time
c) choices which -appear- available
d) based on past experience (which may not necessarily transfer to the future)
e) basic mental capacity (sound of mind vs. mentally ill - normal personality vs addictive personality)
It isn't really realistic to chalk all of people's misfortunes up to choice. Someone with fetal alcohol syndrome for example may not even be mentally capable of understanding the consequences of their actions (for example) - that is just something that is wrong with their brains. They were born with the condition - yes - they are making choices but that doesn't mean they should be held responsible for not fully thinking through the consequences given the fact that their brains are incapable
of doing so.
The same goes for people raised in crappy circumstances - some people (like me for example) have the innate resiliency to escape from a crappy upbringing without too much permanent damage. Others end up with lower intelligence, fewer coping mechanisms and a propensity to addiction. Blaming them when they make choices that they were perhaps incapable of fully parsing is not productive. Blame itself isn't productive at all. I don't like homelessness because frankly it is messy and I don't like having people beg me for change on the streets.
However, instead of blaming the person or trying to move them or stop them from begging I want society to take a proactive response which helps them get on the right track.