Mental homelessness: Locked within, locked without

Shuvit Melamed, Danny Shalit-Kenig, Marc Gelkopf, Arturo Lerner, Arad Kodesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concept of Mental Homelessness is presented and developed. This paper will provide a historical review of the connection between mental illness and housing and the changing approaches toward institutionalization and de-institutionalization over several centuries. Case illustrations from practice in Israel will be presented to highlight the theme of home, or rather the theme of lacking a home as an element which may be inherent to a mental illness. More specifically, the paper argues that homelessness is a state of mind of which the actual, physical homelessness may be a manifested reflection of. If so, even if a mental patient does initially own a home, he or she is at high risk to lose it somehow. This work is a primary attempt at developing a new idea, stemming originally from the field of mental health, with an attempt to widen its theoretical scope to populations not usually defined as mentally ill. Clinical characteristics are presented, as well as an attempt at a theoretical formulation of this concept permitting the development of therapeutic implications. These are presented in relation to existing psychodynamic concepts and therapeutic approaches related to the phenomenon of homelessness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • De-institutionalization
  • Home
  • Homelessness
  • Institutionalization
  • Mental homelessness
  • Mental illness
  • Psychology of home

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Mental homelessness: Locked within, locked without'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this