When people think of a vulnerable group, they come to mind the elderly, migrants, people with mental illness, the LGBT community, etc. These are the best-known groups and also those with the greatest support networks. But What about the poor? The fact that there are people who are homeless and without money to cover the basic basket is a big social problem at the international level, even if some countries have managed it better than others.
This group has several vulnerabilities, and unfortunately the most important is invisibility. There is research on the subject but from the negative point of view of the impact it has on the country, but no the psychological consequences of not having a roof over poverty, Neither the health risks they present, nor their high probability of developing a mental disorder. We will talk about this briefly in the next few lines.
The causes of indigence
The main causes of destitution can be divided into two groups: personal and social, although the two are linked and ultimately the determinants are social, while personal are linked to the risk of falling into poverty in terms of statistics.
On the one hand, we have the neurobiological determinants: propensity for psychopathologies and these are not treated properlyAnd also anxiety and high stress levels in individuals without support networks. On the other hand, traumatic experiences, The experiences of childhood, sexual or physical abuse, conflict or domestic violence, drug addiction, increase the risk of falling into this situation.
Social exclusion for belonging to a minority group, vulnerable, or discriminated against by race, religion, preferences, is a factor closely linked to poverty. On the other hand, the economy is also very relevant: living with low income, instability and poor family planning due to the scarcity of resources.
even if these are not the only elements that contribute to a person becoming destitute, Are risk factors which, if you do not have the right support networks or the necessary treatment for certain illnesses or psychopathologies, may end up in this situation.
The psychological impact of destitution
As a vulnerable group, it is made up of people belonging to other modes of classifying members of society: the elderly, people with alcoholism or drug addiction problems, immigrants, people with disabilities (both physical and intellectual) , others. The main vulnerabilities, which at the same time become consequences of this social phenomenon, are as follows.
Most of society shows no interest in the needy in most countries. They are seen, but not taken into account.
2. Propensity to exhibit symptoms or develop mental illness
Not having a roof alters their mental capacities, to the point of developing pathologies. The most common among this group are depression and schizophrenia, In addition to alcoholism.
3. Propensity to contract a disease
The needy are exposed to any virus or bacteria and to extreme temperatures without the possibility of preventing disease due to these agents or conditions.
4. High risk of imprisonment
Not having a home makes people homeless risk of being confiscated by the police in the exercise of all its activities in public places, some of them being prohibited.
5. Propensity to use and abuse substances
Not having money for a decent mealMany choose to consume toxic substances to stay hungry or in a state of “well-being” even if the situation calls for it.
6. Unemployment and limited possibilities of obtaining one
The window of opportunity to find a job is drastically reduced.
7. Lack of formal education and absenteeism
What parents are on the street, it is linked to a vulnerable situation of their children, Lack of access to formal education.
8. Risk of accidents and premature death
Being exposed to the disease increases the risk of premature death. In addition, not being protected, not having a sense of direction, being intoxicated, drugged or having a mental illness increases the risk of having an accident.
What can be done to help these people?
The job of psychologists, social workers and advocates is to really reach out to this group, detect needs, propose strategies and implement action plans that allow them to resume a life of dignity, to find a job and, in the event of physical or mental illness, to be treated. The fact that a person is in a street situation does not mean that his status must be changed in front of society; he still has the same rights and can lead a dignified life with all that that entails.