Abstract: Depression and Community Mental Health Services Among Homeless Adults in South Korea (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

267P Depression and Community Mental Health Services Among Homeless Adults in South Korea

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Ahyoung Song, PhD, Assistant professor, Gachon University, Seongnam-si, Korea, Republic of (South)
Background and purpose: A body of research indicated that homeless people are more likely to experience mental health problems. Particularly, depression is the major mental health issues among homeless people. The previous research stressed that the importance of appropriate mental health services regarding homeless people but little is known about the prevalence of depression and the use of mental health services among homeless people in South Korea. This study aimed to examine the prevalence of depression and community mental health services for homeless adults in South Korea.

Methods: The data was derived from the National Homeless Count 2016, for which the Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea adopted Point-in-Time (PIT) methods to collect representative data. Among the total of 11,340 homeless adults, 2,032 were sampled for in-depth interviews. This study used the data from them for final analyses. Depression among homeless adults was measured according to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES_D), and the experience of community mental health services was assessed by asking if the homeless adults used/accessed services at community mental health service centers before or after becoming homeless. Results: The results indicated that 59.16% of homeless adults were at risk for clinical depression. Only a limited number of homeless adults (9.17%) had used services from the community mental health centers before they became homeless. Even after becoming homeless, less than half (42.19%) reported that they had used services from mental health centers. The results of the association between depression and the use of community mental health centers indicated that those who used mental health services after becoming homeless were less likely to report depression than those who had not used such services, regardless or before and after becoming homeless (p<.01). Despite the importance of accessing the services of community mental health centers for homeless adults, they reported several obstacles access to the services, including the location of the centers (physical accessibility), lack of information, health insurance issues, or feeling discriminated against by health professionals.

Conclusion: Overall, the study results highlighted that improving the quantity and quality of community mental health centers could be the key to combatting depression among homeless adults. More practical implications and strategies for promoting mental health among homeless adults in communities will be discussed in the presentation.