The homeless are a vulnerable group that is often forgotten by the public. Many people blame housing problems as the reason for living on the streets. However, according to foreign statistics, the proportion of homeless people with general mental medical needs is as high as 80% to 90%. If appropriate intervention can be carried out, the homeless population can eventually Able to escape from wandering life. (Photo/Photo by Ji Zhixiang, China Times)
Homeless people are a vulnerable group, and many people attribute their homelessness to housing problems. In fact, many people live on the streets due to mental illness. According to statistics, as many as 80% to 90% of homeless people have mental medical needs. Most of the reasons for Taiwanese women’s homelessness are related to mental disorders. With appropriate intervention, they can one day escape from the homeless life. North City Joint Medical Hospital Songde Campus is the first hospital in Taiwan to systematize street psychiatry. Through medical assistance, the rate of people leaving the shelter has increased from only 15 to 28% in the past to 44%.
A few years ago, the then mayor of Taipei said, “When homeless people are clean, they become tourists.” This caused a stir in society, but it also led to the promotion of street psychiatry. Zheng Shengyun, the chief physician of the general psychiatry department of Songde Hospital, who took over the task from the city government, entered the homeless shelter “Yuantongju” for treatment. He often visited homeless people living on the streets during cold snaps and heavy rains.
In the past four years, Yuantongju has served a total of 174 people, 26.4% of whom are women and 73.6% of whom are men. Most of the men are aged 60-69 and 50-59. Women are mostly between the ages of 40 and 49, followed by those between 50 and 59, and their education levels are mainly national and high school graduates.
Homeless homeless people in shelters are highly heterogeneous, and their reasons for wandering vary. Amphetamine addiction is most common among men aged 20 to 29; schizophrenia is the most common among men aged 30 to 39; and alcohol addiction has suddenly emerged after the age of 40, and middle-aged and elderly men are basically addicted to alcohol; after the age of 70, alcohol addiction is the most common problem. Dementia problems will emerge; women, regardless of age group, are more likely to suffer from mental disorders.
Before promoting Yuantongju for medical treatment, the homeless were left to the Social Affairs Bureau to “work alone” to provide employment assistance, social welfare resources, etc. Including those who were evicted due to disturbances, the rate of leaving the shelter ranged from 15 to 28%. . After doctors intervened, many homeless people’s problems were brought under control, and the rate of people leaving shelters increased to 44%. Some people rely on drugs to suppress their desire to take drugs, no longer spend money on drugs, and are able to rent a house. Others are arranged to enter a rehabilitation home after treatment.
Zheng Shengyun said that according to foreign statistics, about 80% to 90% of homeless people have general mental medical needs. Homeless people are not just living on the streets because they live in justice. Some people suffer from mental illness and become homeless because they are not picked up. “How we treat homeless people reflects the moral bottom line of a city and a country.” Zheng Shengyun believes that if the government’s policy towards homeless people is to expel them, there is no guarantee that the targets of expulsion will one day become civilians. He hopes that the government can pay attention to street psychiatry, copy Beicheng’s experience to other counties and cities, and catch every homeless person.