The community of the city of Miami in Florida consists of individuals of different ages who live or travel to Miami to study or work in the city. The large percentage of the community consists of Hispanic Whites, while Caucasians and African Americans can also be seen. The majority of the observed population appeared to be busy. The identified vulnerable population is homeless people. Some of those individuals were possibly intoxicated during the observation. The purpose of the study is to assess the vulnerable population and resources available to it in the community.
Vulnerable Population Overview
The majority of the homeless were Black, whereas Hispanic Whites were also present. Some of them were often begging, others walked around the community, and some individuals slept in less noticeable places. They wore ragged clothes, and some of them were possibly intoxicated by alcohol or other substances.
Such economic conditions as the rising income inequality and the unaffordable housing prices directly affect the homeless. The reduction in family income and rising rent prices can increase the number of homeless families unable to pay rent. Income inequality between men and women also poses the latter at risk of homelessness, especially if a woman leaves an abusive partner and has to support herself or her family alone (Grant, Gracy, Goldsmith, Shapiro, & Redlener, 2013).
Strengths, Risk Factors, Barriers
According to Edidin, Ganim, Hunter, and Karnik (2012), the strength of the vulnerable population is its awareness of HIV/STI prevention. Risk factors include exposure to violence, including physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, which can result in mental illnesses. In turn, mental illnesses lead to an increased probability of substance use and psychological distress, as well as a reluctance to find professional help. Homeless people’s reluctance to seek help is also stimulated by the lack of coordination among local providers, long wait-lists, and homeless individuals’ inability to provide fixed permanent address or birth certificate.
It should also be noted that some homeless individuals do not seek professional care due to their anticipation of discriminatory attitudes expressed by medical professionals. Additionally, young homeless people with substance abuse issues do not believe they need any help (Edidin et al., 2012). Lack of health insurance and expensive transportation (or homeless’ inability to pay for it) is also viewed as barriers that prevent access to healthcare services.
There are multiple shelters available for homeless people in Miami, FL, that provide services to families, homeless youth, women, and runaways, including adolescents and children. Some of the shelters (“Meat & Eat”) provide free food for homeless individuals (Yellow Pages, 2017). Miami Rescue Mission provides homeless with shelter, meals, and employment, while the Salvation Army Rehab Center has services for homeless people with substance abuse such as counseling, training in job skills, and in-residence programs. Some of the shelters are established by religious charities (New Life Family of Catholic Charities, Eyes On God Homeless Shelter) and may be unsuitable for non-religious homeless individuals.
While the majority of the resources are adequate, there is a clear insufficiency in shelters for adolescents and women. Furthermore, most of the shelters provide meals and residence, but almost none of the resources have free healthcare services. Therefore, the community needs more facilities that will provide free health care to the vulnerable population, including children and women, with a history of family abuse.
Community Health Problem Diagnosis
The identified priority community health problem is the prevalence of various mental illnesses among homeless people. My task would be to provide homeless people with information about what causes mental illnesses, how they can be self-managed, and whether any community services can help them treat their illness or improve the management of it. I can also raise public awareness of the problem to reduce the fear of possible mentally ill individuals that they will be stigmatized by nursing professionals or other community residents.
It is important to realize that if a medical professional expresses any prejudice related to people with mental illnesses, representatives of the vulnerable population will be less trustful toward health care services. Homeless people are afraid of being marginalized due to their situation, and further stereotyping of mentally ill people can avert them from seeking professional help. Therefore, as a nurse, I am responsible for educating other community professionals about the importance of appropriate attitude toward homeless, mentally ill people.
The specific objective MHMD-12 is to “increase the proportion of homeless adults with mental health problems who receive mental health services” to 41 percent (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2016, para. 12).
The identified vulnerable group is homeless people; the majority of them are Black, although Hispanic Whites are also present. In the community, they were seen begging, walking, or sleeping in the streets. Income inequality between the wealthy and the poor, and men and women, as well as rising rent prices and unaffordable housing, are the major factors that influence the vulnerable population. The priority problem is a high prevalence of mental illnesses in homeless people, who are unable to seek professional help.
More community resources are needed to address the needs of the vulnerable population; nursing professionals need to educate other staff and community members to eliminate prejudices about the vulnerable population.
Edidin, J. P., Ganim, Z., Hunter, S. J., & Karnik, N. S. (2012). The mental and physical health of homeless youth: A literature review. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 43(3), 354-375.
Grant, R., Gracy, D., Goldsmith, G., Shapiro, A., & Redlener, I. E. (2013). Twenty-five years of child and family homelessness: Where are we now? American Journal of Public Health, 103(2), 1-10.
US Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Mental health and mental disorders: Objectives. Web.
Yellow Pages. (2017). Miami, FL homeless. Web.