I think there's a huge amount of them that have psychological problems, substance abuse problems, or both. I honestly don't think that many of them are down on their luck families. There's actually a social safety net that helps with these things, and in fact in my area there apparently enough beds for all the homeless, but those facilities come with rules, and the homeless people either don't want to follow the rules or their mental health issues prevent them from seeking help.
Back half a century ago all these people would have been institutionalized, involuntarily and given proper treatment.
The US de-institutionalized mental health starting in the 1960s, breakthroughs and medication that could treat a lot of symptoms of mental health meant people no longer had to be in prison and could basically be reintroduced into society. Unfortunately many of the mental health issues have the symptom, that once you get off your medication you don't want to get back onto it. Hence people eventually getting out of balance in becoming totally dysfunctional, with no system in place to assist them in overcoming these issues.
Not that the mental health system was ever that great, there are a ton of horror stories about the treatment of patients and the conditions and mental health institutions. Plus you have things like people committing relatives against their will, and those people being kept in mental health facilities indefinitely based on quack doctors who had absolute authority.
Problem is our current system, which is like the free range mental health patients, apparently believes that it's more humane to let these people run free and leave them to their own devices.
I think that the emphasis on mental health in the US has been completely ignored by politicians on both sides who don't want to try to tackle it. It's easier just to slap fake Band-Aids over the problem and then pretend it's not there or that they actually did something.
There needs to be a system in place where we go out and humanely get these people the treatment they need so that they can be functional members of society. In extreme cases when that's not possible then put them in long-term care facilities.
I think this also goes hand in hand with the war on drugs, that rather than treating drug abuse as a crime we need to treat it as a public health issue. It'd be way cheaper to mandate these people go to drug rehab programs then keep them locked in penitentiaries with other criminals and guarded full-time.
And obviously all this would cost an ass ton of money, although I think drug treatment is a much cheaper alternative to imprisonment, and this is all much easier said than done.
On top of this this is extremely difficult balancing act judging the person's welfare versus their civil liberties and trying to treat them in a fair, logical and humane manner.
I would also imagine if it's the longer the person is on the street the more difficult it becomes to rehabilitate that person, and give them some semi-balance of a normal life.
I'd go with much of that.
You should be going with all of it
But from the popular media ive consumed I would think that the past healthcare system, mental institutions and asylums in the UK were much the same, with people being committed against their will for indefinite stays and that they're all types of horror stories and abuse.
And the problem with mental health treatment is often it takes very expensive experts, it's not a science, although it strives to be there's just an endless litany of completely garbage mental health theories that were accepted in the past as cutting edge treatment.
So couple expensive experts needed, with a job that's very difficult, mentally tasking, and sometimes physically dangerous. Oftentimes the secondary caregivers like nurses are orderly aren't highly paid, are in a thankless job, are in a high stress job, all of which does not attract the most qualified or sympathetic people.
And with people like this at the lower end of the pay scale and the mental health services, the grind of the job can often cause resentment towards the people you're putting charge of caring for, hence not providing the type of humanitarian care we would all wish.
On top of this you also have the problem that because this job's undesirable and the pay is not that great that you also get undesirable people taking it who abuse and mistreat the people they're charged with caring for.
You've got similar problems in senior care.