Below is a post from a peer in a group discussion. I am to provide feedback with additional information, asking questions or just giving my thoughts on the situation
I have selected the homeless veteran population within my community and the prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse. I currently work as a case manager in the ER and have seen many overdoses and mental illness patients within our facility. Mental illness is a significant problem in our country, and even more so within my community. I would like to see improvement, which is why I have chosen this population.
As of January 2020, Hawaii had an estimated 6,458 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of that total, 499 were family households, 485 were Veterans, 299 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 1,678 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness (Data 2018).
I utilized local news sources for data, such as gathering information about the locations and numbers of homeless camps within the city. I will also use the local Veterans Affairs (VA) Centers to help me with these veterans with mental disorders. Ding, Slate, and Yang (2018) found that 76.7% of veterans have prior diagnoses of a mental disorder. This staggering number should alert the community and medical leaders to take action. The leading mental illness diagnosed was depression which accounted for 48.2% of those surveyed (Ding, Slate, & Yang, 2018). Even more worrisome is that Ellison (2016) found that veterans interviewed had drunk to intoxication within the last fourteen days and used illegal drugs within the past thirty days. My experience is that these drugs and alcohol lead to the abuse of substances, which ultimately is how they end up homeless.
I have not been able to find very much local health data; instead, much of it is focused on national or state levels. However, as a veteran and working with veterans with mental illness as a volunteer, I have firsthand accounts of this population’s mental disorders. I plan to continue to search local health agencies and, of course, the VA hospital within my community for more information specific to my community.