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Article   |    
Deinstitutionalization and the Homeless Mentally Ill
H. Richard Lamb
Psychiatric Services 1984; doi:
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University of Southern California School of Medicine, 1934 Hospital Place, Los Angeles, California 90033

1984 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Although homelessness among the chronically mentally ill is closely linked with deinstitutionalization, it is not the result of deinstitutionalization per se but of the way deinstitutionalization has been carried out. The lack of planning for structured living arrangements and for adequate treatment and rehabilitative services in the community has led to many unforeseen consequences such as homelessness, the tendency for many chronic patients to become drifters, and the shunting of many of the mentally ill into the criminal justice system. it has become clear after two decades of deinstitutionalization that what is needed is a vast expansion of community housing and other services and a whole revamping of the mental health system to meet the needs of the chronically mentally ill for support and stability. In addition, mental health professionals must accept the full extent of the dependency needs of many chronic patients.

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