The Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness will host a community forum to address “The Demedicalization of Mental Illness: Have Changing Attitudes about Mental Illness Allowed People to Languish on the Streets?”
Dr. Joel T. Braslow will discuss the factors that have led to demedicalization, its consequences and ways to address the issues it presents at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 27, in the Palisades Library community room, 861 Alma Real Dr.
Government officials have defined homelessness as a housing problem. Braslow, a UCLA professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, takes a broader view by addressing sociocultural, economic and medical attitudinal changes.
One topic to be discussed is the notion that homeless persons are not considered gravely disabled, even though it’s their disorder that drives their inability to find shelter and to function. For example, many have anosognosia, which means the person is unaware of their own mental health condition or they can’t perceive their condition correctly.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, anosognosia affects 50% of people with schizophrenia, and 40% of people with bipolar disorder. Treating these mental health conditions is much more complicated because lack of insight is one of the symptoms. People with anosognosia are placed at increased risk of homelessness or arrest.
More people with severe psychiatric illnesses are now denied admission to hospitals and many homeless can no longer be classified with acute psychiatric emergency, which would allow immediate intervention.