Homelessness is a systemic issue that affects people who have a mental illness. Homelessness and mental illness co-occur with, precipitate and exacerbate each other. In both homelessness and mental illness, identifying the initial signals and intervening early can prevent things from getting worse. Identification can be challenging, as it is often agencies and services not traditionally focused on homelessness or mental health to which people first present their symptoms. Mainstream services need to be aware of the warning signs and risk factors for both conditions, and know how to make appropriate referrals.
Sectors and systems should know how to respond whenever a person reaches out for help, whether for their homelessness or their mental health. Services should recognise that seeking support may be difficult, and may not happen again. In practice, this may require service providers to plan how to assist those whom they cannot support directly to obtain the right information and care and to help people to navigate those pathways.