Mental disorder among a homeless population in Belfast: an exploratory survey

A. McAuley, H.P. McKenna

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6 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to identify the prevalence of mental disorder in hostels for the homeless in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In addition, it attempted to assess the facilities and support offered from both the hostels and the Health Service to homeless people who have a mental disorder. Lastly it sought to determine whether or not psychiatric hospital bed closure had any influence on the prevalence of homelessness among these persons in Belfast. An exploratory approach was adopted, using semi-structured interviews as the method of data collection. The sample consisted of 12 hostels for the homeless with a total occupancy of 250 residents. Officers in charge were surveyed. The results obtained indicated that approximately 25% of the homeless in Belfast hostels have a diagnosed mental disorder and that hospital closure has had a direct effect on the size of this percentage. In addition, it was found that the hostels generally are not able to offer the levels of therapy and support given in hospital or in designated hostels for people with mental health problems. Responses also suggest that support from Health Service personnel is less than satisfactory. While the findings in this study do not look at the entire homeless population in Northern Ireland, interesting and useful information emerged that has implications for policy and further areas of study elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-342
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 1995


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