Many of our patients - and homeless people in general - are psychiatric patients. Nurse on the street always tries to rehouse them independently if possible, but mental health remains a very important issue and requires both short and long term care.

The case of Mr R who suffers from serious psychiatric problems

One of our housed patients, Mr R,  suffers from serious psychiatric problems. He has his own home, but the field team is nevertheless very worried about him. In fact, he does absolutely nothing to keep his place in order. He sleeps there and uses it as a safe place for his drug use. In that respect it’s even important that he has a place of his own, especially because, at the moment, no appropriate treatment is available for him. Our team decided to come and give the place soon a good scrub. But the relationship with him remains very difficult.

Despite the complexity of the situation, we receive very little support from institutions/psychiatric hospitals. For them, this man doesn’t represent a danger to himself or his surroundings, and that there can therefore be no question of involuntary commitment (forced observation).

At Street Nurses, we follow such cases very pro-actively.

With good reason, because we accompany our patients for the long term and are sometimes confronted with fatalities. Which is not always the case with institutions.

Street nurses teams adapt to their psychiatric patients

Psychiatric patients/persons living on the street or have a home of their own (77% of our 2021 public) constitute a very serious problem. Our teams are not really equipped to deal with this category of persons. That’s why we’re actively exploring the possibility of hiring a psychiatrist to support them.

Moreover, this category of our public has a very negative influence on the overall image of homeless people, and it weighs heavily on the work of our teams as their accompaniment is so much more cumbersome.

Re-housing improves mental health

Despite all these difficulties, we’ve often seen how impressively people with mental problems can recover. As soon as they can leave street life and receive appropriate treatment, they can develop very positively and durably.

That gives us hope, and strengthens our conviction that housing is an integral part of the right accompaniment and that, together with professionals, citizens and politicians, we’ll succeed in ending homelessness. 

(*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.

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