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Experts shed light on mental health crisis, how homeless populations can be better supported

Mental Health Awareness Month

MARYLAND. – In recent years, mental health has shifted from a taboo topic, to one that is more widely discussed.

But even as society advances in the right direction towards shattering the stigma, Dr. Michael Finegan, Clinical Psychologist with Peninsula Mental Health Services, said some populations still go under the radar.

“Many of those individuals that are on the streets have serious mental disorders, what we refer to as psychotic disorders, which require medication and long-term assistance, because these are chronic conditions,” Dr. Finegan said.

Dr. Finegan points to several different factors that can contribute to mental health disorders among homeless people.

“People still have shame associated with mental health, that’s particularly true with substance use,” Dr. Finegan said. “There are great treatments that are empirically based, and really have a significant difference in improving the lives of others.”

But with systemic barriers in the way of homeless individuals getting the support they need, Christian Shelter Inc. executive director, Anthony Dickerson, said it’s important for organizations like his to extend that outreach to the community

“An individual can get involved into criminal activity, inappropriate behavior and so forth, so if we can catch it early, we can prevent them from going down the wrong path in life,” Dickerson said.

A firm believer in the power of community, Dickerson said helping one individual will have a ripple effect on those around them.

“Mental health is such a big issue now, in our community, and it takes a whole village, just like it takes a whole village to raise a child,” Dickerson said. “I believe it takes a whole village to be a resource for individuals who need that resource.”

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