Tweet text: Homelessness impairs the health of people in my community. Raising awareness, lobbying policies, and supporting local programs could help.
Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people live that have a direct or indirect impact on their health and wellbeing. Homelessness is a significant problem in America, and homeless people experience multiple risks with regard to their health and quality of life. Addressing the needs of homeless people through tailored health and social services could help to improve the wellbeing of these populations. The present paper will outline the issue of homelessness as a social determinant of health in greater depth and examine the role that I could play to help my community.
Homelessness is a significant determinant of health as it is connected with many issues that affect health. People who do not have a home often have problems with hygiene and face various environmental hazards contributing to their health problems, including cold temperatures and exposure to infections. According to the American Psychological Association (n.d.), homeless people have an increased rate of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, and are at a higher risk of contracting HIV.
Sexually transmitted infections are also prevalent in specific homeless populations (APA, n.d.). Infectious diseases have a negative impact on any person’s wellbeing and quality of life since they often have symptoms causing discomfort and pain. However, homeless people face more challenges with infections because they are often unable to obtain health care promptly. This may lead to life-threatening health conditions, as well as to chronic health problems, thus impacting the overall health of this population.
In the context of homelessness and health, people often overlook the concerns associated with homeless people’s mental health. Psychological conditions have a crucial impact on homeless people’s overall wellbeing and their quality of life. Research shows that homeless populations have a higher prevalence of mental health problems. For example, almost half of homeless women meet the criteria for major depressive disorder, which is twice the level of prevalence in the general population (APA, n.d.).
Homeless people also face the physical and mental health risks of drug addiction and substance use as these issues are widespread in the streets (APA, n.d.). It is also essential to note that many people become homeless while already having mental health problems, thus often losing access to psychological help they need. For instance, homelessness is rather prevalent among veterans and can coincide with posttraumatic stress disorder.
One critical characteristic of homelessness as a social determinant of health is that it is connected to other determinants, including poverty, malnutrition, and poor access to care. The interconnectedness of these problems is the primary factor impacting the health of homeless people, meaning that solutions to address the impact of homelessness on health have to be systemic and include low-income housing, improved access to care, and employment support.
My role in addressing the issue of homelessness in my community is raising awareness about the problem and solutions, advocating for the needs of homeless populations, and supporting policies and programs to remedy the issue. For instance, I could take part in changing this social determinant by contacting local policymakers and requesting improvements in low-income housing and healthcare in the area. I could also spread awareness about organizations providing services to homeless people in the area to ensure that people know where they can get help. These steps would help to improve the health of people who are homeless while also addressing homelessness in a broader socio-economic context.
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Health & homelessness. Web.