Updated: Mar 3, 2022
A.H. Maslow came up with the theory shown above called, The Hierarchy of Needs in 1943. It is still used by many today to show how our needs build upon one another. When someone becomes homeless, their basic needs are not being met. This can cause anxiety, depression, fear, sleeplessness, and substance abuse (escape).
Physiological needs are air, water, food, sleep, clothing and shelter. Safety needs are personal safety, economic security and health. Not being able to meet these needs, especially for parents can be devastating.
Two of my favorite movies about homelessness are the Pursuit of Happiness and the Blindside. Before I explain the movies, let me first explain homelessness. Homelessness is when someone is living in a temporary location such as a shelter, or place not fit to be lived in.
The Pursuit of Happiness is about a father trying to sell medical equipment to get himself and his son off the streets. Thankfully his little boy was asleep or at school for the scariest parts of his father's life. The story is about their one year struggle to get off the streets.
The Blindside on the other hand is about a homeless teenager who is taken in by a wealthy family and becomes a part of their family. He has all of his needs as shown in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs met and becomes a shining football star.
What do these movies have to do with mental health
Both of these movies are based on real life people who experienced some of the events portrayed in the movies, especially homelessness. It shows the despair and trauma they endured along with the life lines they were given.
According to Ruff Institute of Global Health, "Homelessness, in turn, amplifies poor mental health. The stress of experiencing homelessness may exacerbate previous mental illness and encourage anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness and substance use." It is easier to understand this when realizing how important it is to feel you have a safe space and your other basic needs are met.
I know I feel better when I am can feel physically safe when my mind is in turmoil. Now imagine not having a safe space mentally or physically. Then add children to the mix.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "Each year, an estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness, of which 700,000 are unaccompanied minors, meaning they are not part of a family or accompanied by a parent or guardian. On any given night, approximately 41,000 unaccompanied youth ages 13-25 experience homelessness."
Why do people become homeless
How long are people typically homeless
The average length of stay in an emergency shelter is three months and the average stay on the streets is a year. If you are reading this and you are homeless; here is a resource for runaways, housing, domestic violence, human trafficking, and health centers.
How Can I help
How can you get involved and help end homelessness? The National Coalition Homeless Says we can help by showing we care. Here is the link to their carebag project.
C-Contribute (food drives, money, etc.)
R- Reach Out (volunteering)
E- Educate (learn root causes)
You are not alone, no matter if you are the one struggling with homelessness or are looking for ways to help those who are homeless in your community. You are FOUND right here with us and we will help you on your journey. Please reach out if you need more information or a friend.
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