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Shelters struggling to serve homeless people with mental illnesses

READ MORE: Shelters struggling to serve homeless people with mental illnesses
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Mental illness and homelessness are often linked together. It often starts when individuals or families lose everything, and get depressed and shelters are now having a hard time keeping up with the number of homeless folks with mental illnesses. The mental health system in our state has been suffering for quite some time now. According to officials at Good Shepherd Ministries, less funding for mental health will inevitably create more homelessness in our area. "Even for our homeless families, if a month ago they were housed, and their children had a dog, toys, and books of their own, and today their living in a shelter, and each of them have been reduced to about two suitcases worth of belongings, there are no toys, no dog, that would be cause to at least be clinically depressed,” said Katrina Knight of Good Shepherd. Katrina Knight sees first hand the link between mental illness and homelessness. Problem is, shelters like Good Shepherd don't have the resources to clinically treat patients with mental illnesses. "There aren't a lot of mental health professionals out there who are looking for business from the population we are working with,” Knight said. Good Shepherd used to have three full time staff members from Southeastern Center to work with anyone with mental illness, but after the mental health reform, and many financial cut backs by the state, those staff members are no longer there. The state reform in 2008 was aimed at treating people with mental illness through providers, as opposed to in one of the state's four psychiatric hospitals. Then the state had some financial problems, and was forced to cut back their providers.

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