People with Mental Disorders on the Street
by Robert L. Okin, MD
We avert our eyes when we meet them on the street: homeless mentally ill people with their hand-scrawled signs, shopping carts, and cardboard boxes. Because of our fear and revulsion, we fail to see any human connection with them.
Still, we’re curious: How do they end up on the street? How do they survive the stress and privations of such a life? What combination of biological vulnerabilities, childhood traumas, drugs, mental disorders, and financial devastation brought them down? And how do some manage, against all odds, to climb out of this desperate situation?
Former commissioner of mental health Robert Okin spent two years on the street meeting and photographing homeless individuals with mental illness to find answers to these questions. He masterfully brings these people to life through stories and images that are intimate and gritty.
This is a book about hope, not just grief and despair. It challenges us to face the situation and do something about it rather than simply look away.