I am concerned about the patients in psychiatric facilities, prisons, and on the street. It seems like if Covid-19 were to spread among these populations, the rate of transmission would be high, and in the case of those living without shelter, the death rate would likely be high because they might not have access to medical treatment.
We all know that more psychiatric facilities are a way to combat the crisis in mental health treatment and a way to see the numbers of those on the streets and in prisons go down. How can we work together to get more hospital beds in our communities?
I haven’t seen a single article written about this topic. Have you? I have seen dozens of articles about the mental health of medical staff (mostly nurses) and the general population (hello anxiety), but I haven’t seen anyone writing about the impact of Covid-19 on the most vulnerable (except for the elderly and I’m glad to see that addressed).
For years I have felt like people who have psychosis (drug-related or otherwise) were the invisible population. Most of us living in the city know that many people on the streets are mentally ill, and we see them, but don’t know how to work toward a compassionate solution for them. It doesn’t take much to realize we need more services (I often hear people say that many people living unsheltered choose to live that way, that is not my experience).
According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, 50% of people with schizophrenia and 40% of people living with bipolar disorder have anosognosia or lack of insight into their illness. Meaning these are the people who rarely accept treatment because they are unaware they are sick. It is cruel to leave the gravely disabled on the street just because they refuse medication. They are unaware they are ill!
I support a local nonprofit that feeds the homeless (unsheltered), but I think I am going to call my representatives and try to get handwashing stations to put all over the city so that people without access to public restrooms can wash their hands easily and help stop the spread of the virus. I know this is a small thing, but it could have a huge impact on thousands of people’s health.
Can you think of anything else we can do? I would pass out hand sanitizer to people on the street, but every store I have visited sold out.