SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — According to the American Psychological Association, the rate of mental illness among people without homes is twice the rate of the general population, and experts agree that there’s a two-way street between homelessness and mental health issues.
A few months ago, Joseph Jacobson was dealing with multiple mental health issues like depression and anxiety while being homeless. After a while he started using methamphetamine to cope.
“I was using drugs and at first it helped with that, but I kinda upgraded my drug use and it became way worse, like I couldn’t even go inside Walmart or any stores. If like me and you passed each other on the street, I’d think like, ‘Oh he knows, he’s looking at me,'” said Jacobson.
Not only can losing one’s home cause mental health issues, but often mental health issues can lead to a person becoming homeless.
“Our top mental health diagnosis would be depression, but I think that’s pretty equal also with bipolar schizophrenia,” said Sara Johnson of Hope Street of Siouxland.
To help those like Jacobson, the Sioux City Police Department (SCPD) has a community resource guide with them at all times listing the best places to take homeless residents for professional help.
“We will either take them to the ER to have them seen by a physician there or we have a crisis center here in Sioux City that’s a 24-hour crisis center through Siouxland Mental Health that we can refer them to. We can also have MCAT, who’s an affiliate with the crisis center, come to where we are to help these people in crisis,” said Heather Skogman, SCPD officer.
MCAT, or Mobile Crisis Assessment Team, has been a partner with the SCPD since 2019.
The department uses these services for people experiencing an emergency.
However, there are resources in Sioulxand that help those with mental health issues or drug addiction while also providing people with a temporary home. Hope Street of Siouxland’s program director, Sara Johnson said the non-profit provides a personalized approach to each resident.
“Each person has an individualized process when they come in. Some people we start at ground zero for everything and we have other individuals who you know might have some things in place, they might need support in certain areas and so we don’t treat any person the same way,” said Johnson
At this time, Joseph Jacobson is two months drug-free and is making progress on his mental health. He said Hope Street of Siouxland has turned his life around.
“Feels awesome that people care, you know, and Sara didn’t even know me and they actually care. They care about me, about my wellbeing, they just care, and I wasn’t used to that, so it was very nice to get that,” said Jacobson.
Click here for a list of resources available in Siouxland.