Behavioral Health Services for People Who Are Homeless

This Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) is for behavioral health service providers or program administrators who want to work more effectively with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and who need, or are currently in, substance abuse or mental health treatment. The TIP addresses treatment and prevention issues. Some aspects of the TIP will be of primary interest to counselors across settings, whereas others will be of primary interest to prevention professionals or providers in primary care settings. However, the approach advocated by the TIP is integrated and is aimed at providing services to the whole person to improve quality of life in all relevant domains.

The information in this TIP can be useful to you if you wish to:

  • Be a more effective clinician for people facing potential or actual homelessness.
  • Recognize and address homelessness as a special dynamic that affects your clients.
  • Help prevent potential crises that result from becoming homeless.
  • Provide preventive services for individuals and families who are homeless, especially as they relate to emergent substance abuse or mental disorders.
  • Be more aware of the effects of psychological trauma and co-occurring disorders (CODs) among people who are homeless.
  • Provide integrated, more effective services to people who are homeless.
  • Understand and know how to utilize resources for homelessness (e.g., permanent supportive housing [PSH]) in your community.
  • Understand the significance of cultural competence in your work with people who are homeless and experience substance use and mental disorders.
  • Influence the understanding of others in your community regarding the interrelationship of homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness.

Population of focus: Behavioral health service providers who work with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness

Link to resource: TIP 55: Behavioral Health Services for People Who Are Homeless

Date: 2015

Organization: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration