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Warning over lack of mental health services for homeless people

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A government target of zero rough sleeping by 2012 is being put at risk because of a lack of mental health services for homeless people, charities have warned.

Crisis and St Mungo’s have warned that the target will not be met because of high levels of mental illness among homeless people.

St Mungo’s, a homelessness charity in London, said that 35% of the homeless people it helps have severe and enduring mental illnesses.

A survey of residents at its shelter for homeless people found that 85% were in poor mental health, with a range of personality, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorders.

And Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people, has released a literature review about mental health among homeless people.

Ill Health in the Adult Single Homeless Population emphasises that mental health problems are far higher among homeless people than the general population.

It says that street homeless people are between 50 and 100 times more likely to have a psychotic disorder than the general population.

Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: ‘Despite the very welcome reduction in the numbers of rough sleepers over the last decade, the proportion with a mental illness has remained static at around a third.

‘These are often the individuals with the most intractable problems, who need the most determined help, and it is reprehensible they are not getting it.’

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