Psychological Effects of Homelessness

In these modern times, the prevalence of homelessness has been a major problem for every country. It is heartbreaking to learn that no countries have been able to eradicate homelessness. Not only does homelessness have a negative effect on the economic growth of a country, but also significant negative psychological effects on a person’s life. Although these effects differ from one person to another, there are those that are common, this article elaborates on these psychological effects and the possible solutions to some of them.

The psychological effects of being homeless may not be obvious, but are compelling nonetheless. Homelessness may affect the psychological growth of a child in different ways; for example, profound violence and anxiety are most prevalent in homeless families.

Downer (2013) states that the psychological effects of homelessness begin way before a child’s birth since most of their parents were also homeless, spending their life struggling to meet basic needs. In addition, problems such as drug abuse, competition for the limited space, violence and harassment, cause most homeless pregnant women and mothers to be overwhelmed and stressed. This makes them have little or no time to offer attention and understanding to their children when they need it most. Highly stressed parents are less affectionate, less playful and more critical; this leads to a negative impact on the parent-child relationship. In addition to this, homeless children are forced to live a nomadic lifestyle. This breaks their routines, making it hard to establish new lifestyles as they are forced to leave their homes, friends, belongings and familiar environments. This social isolation, emotional, and physical deprivation are some of the things thought to lead to low self-esteem, insecure attachments, and violent behavior depicted by homeless persons.

Young homeless kids are confronted by traumatic and stressful situations daily, yet they are too young to comprehend leave alone handle them. This leads to emotional distress whose accumulation leads to psychological disorders. Despite these alarming effects, less than one-third of these children receive psychological help.

Many argue that the common characteristic among the homeless is the absence of stable, permanent shelter. However, the services they need and the factors that cause homelessness are unique according to the individual. This suggests that people are homeless for the same reason; therefore, the solution lies in providing affordable housing. Although housing is a basic need for all homeless people, each person has their own reason to remain homeless.