There is little research available in Ireland in relation to Dual Diagnosis and homelessness but research from abroad states an estimated 50% of homeless adults have a dual diagnosis. People with a dual diagnosis are much more likely to become homeless as having a dual diagnosis often leads to overall poorer ability to handle managing one’s own life. (National Alliance for Mental Illness, USA).

Determining the number of people who are without homes at any given point is a difficult task due to the transient nature of some homelessness. It appears that services working in the area of homelessness believe that government figures are incorrect as the figures published are based only on homeless people that have contacted the local authorities. These services believe that the figures are much higher.

In order to get a snapshot of the impact of Dual Diagnosis on the homeless population in Ireland, the table below is generated from the number of clients that Focus Ireland (a registered charity that works with people without homes) dealt with in 2007)

No of clients focus Ireland worked with in 2007
Focus Ireland
% Of people estimated to have Dual Diagnosis
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Number of homeless people with a Dual Diagnosis
Calculated figure

Another issue for a person without a home is not having an address. If you do not have an address you do not fit into any Health Service Executive (HSE) catchement areas, so access to certain services is refused by the HSE. According to Fr. Peter McVerry the founder of the McVerry Trust

“The Holistic needs of the individual are not being addressed. There are too many borders between homelessness, drugs, mental health; you need to be in one category or the other to be dealt with, when you are in ‘multiple categories’ that is when you are in most need of assistance. I don’t see any joined up thinking, or a least the practical delivery of services in a joined up manner.”

this real life story illustrates the issue . . . Fr. McVerry’s Story