Helping the Homeless Who are Mentally Ill (Part 1)

Nearly one in four homeless individuals suffers from a severe mental disability(1).   People with various forms of mental illness frequent urban missions for temporary food and shelter. Some express a desire to participate in long-term rehabilitation and recovery programs.   The most common forms of mental illness among the homeless are schizophrenia and the affective disorders (bipolar and major depression).(2)   Because I have recently received so many inquiries regarding how to best minister to the mentally ill in a urban mission setting, we will dedicate the next few installments of this column to this subject.

A.       Why so many of the mentally ill are homeless  – Over the past thirty years, we have seen a a trend of “deinstitutionalizing” the mentally ill. It was determined that with the proper support and therapy, as well as the right combination of medicines, the mentally ill could function better within society and achieve an independent life.(3)   Theoretically it sounds like a good idea.   The goal has been to give the mentally ill more dignity and independence by placing them in a supportive community setting instead of a hospital.     In too many situations, the mentally ill were released from institutions without proper support networks in place, and as a result, become homeless.   Additionally, the very nature of mental illness causes sufferers to lose the ability to function in a socially-acceptable manner. When their families and other social networks cannot (or will not) support them any longer, they find themselves on the streets.   The latter situation is especially true for those who are referred to as “dual diagnosis” – suffering from both mental illness and drug/alcohol addiction.

B.       We can help the homeless who are mentally ill  
– According to the Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness, only 5-7% of homeless persons with mental illness need to be institutionalized; most can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing options (Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness, 1992).   The problem is, so many do not have access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services like case management, housing, and treatment.

The severe forms of mental illness are caused primarily by chemical imbalances that interfere with normal brain activity.   Major advances in psychiatric pharmacology have resulted in highly effective medications that can help mentally ill people live relatively stable lives.   A carefully regulated regimen of proper medications can even allow them to successfully participate in long-term rehab/recovery programs.

C.       Developing a “team approach”  – Few urban missions have medical professionals on their staffs to diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe the proper treatment for the various psychiatric disorders.   Therefore, it is absolutely essential that mission staff members become acquainted with local mental health providers.   In larger cities, there can be a number of options available, which can make it easier to find mental health professionals who share our values.   Even where options are limited, most Christian workers will find that a good working relationship can be established, especially if an effort is made to keep the lines of communication open between the urban mission and the mental health facility.

D.       Knowing when a mental health referral is needed  – Too often, urban mission workers who have not learned to recognize the symptoms of mental illness have become frustrated and discouraged in their efforts to help those who suffer.   Understanding is the key to effectively ministering to those who suffer from mental disabilities.   In upcoming articles, we will look at the most common forms of mental illness – depression, pyschosis, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.   We will also discuss the most common medications used to treat these diseases and how urban missions can help those suffering from mental illness to attain a satisfying life.

See also, Helping the Homeless Who Are Mentally Ill (Part 2)


1.       Waxman LD, Peterson K, McClure, M. A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s

2.       Fischer P, Breakey W. Homelessness and mental health: an overview. International Journal of Mental Health. 1986;14:6-41.

3.       Stubbs, Pat (1998). Broken promises:The story of deinstitutionalization.1998, September 25.

Introduction to E-marketing

Marketing Your Web Site: Attracting Your Target Audience
Michael Liimatta, Director of Education, AGRM



  • E-marketing is not simply getting lots of visitors, it is attracting your target audience(s)
  • E-marketing is most effective when a variety of methods are used
  • E-marketing efforts must be monitored for best results.

Why users return to the their favorite web sites

  • High Quality Contest – 75%
  • Easy to Use – 66%
  • Quick Download Time 58%
  • Frequent Updates – 54%


Design Strategies

  • Who is the site for? What sort of content/experience do they want?
  • Why would they want to visit our web site? Why would they want to come back again?”
  • What do we expect from the site? How will we know it’s effective?


Content Attracts Visitors

  • Avoid “online brochures”
  • Keep links current
  • Make sure users can contact you
  • Make sure “someone is minding the store” by giving a staff person the job of updating and monitoring the   web site.

Avoid These Mistakes

  • Static “online brochures”
  • Outdated Content
  • Dead Links
  • Difficult navigation schemes
  • Unattractive design
  • Extremely long download times


What is a Search Engine?

  • Have automated programs (“spiders”) that follow links to index sites and score pages based on proprietary guidelines.
  • There is no human judgment involved.
  • Text of web pages is indexed so when a user enters a search query, the search engine scans its database for pages that provide the best match.
  • We can expedite the process by submitting URLs to the search engines.


Meta Tags

  • Proper use of HTML meta tags is the key to creating web sites that can be found by Internet users.
  • Coding that is embedded in a web page’s HTML but is not visible through a web browser.
  • Provide search engines, like AltaVista, Yahoo, and Excite, with data that is essential for effective indexing of web sites.



Most Important Meta Tags

  • TITLE of the page
  • DESCRIPTION of the page (or entire site if they are on the home page)
  • KEYWORDS are used to assist search engine to properly index the page.


Meta Tag Example



<title>KCPhilanthroNET | Job Source</title>

<meta name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”Online database listing career opportunities with local nonprofit organizations – sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Council on Philanthropy.”>

<meta name=”KEYWORDS” content=”Kansas, City, Missouri, nonprofit, organizations, organization, careers, jobs, job, Director, director, Executive, Development, development, manager, administrator, Coordinator”>



How Long to Get Listed?

  • Altavista         1 – 2 weeks
  • Excite, Lycos   4 weeks
  • HotBot   2 weeks
  • Google   4 – 6 weeks
  • Infoseek-Go 6 – 8 weeks
  • Northern Light     2 – 4 weeks
  • Webcrawler       3 months


What is a Directory?

  • Human editors review web pages and organize them into categories with brief descriptions. (Yahoo, LookSmart, DMOZ)
  • A keyword search will only look for matches in the descriptions, so carefully describe your site when submitting it.
  • While good content is necessary for search engines, both good content AND visual appeal are mandatory in human-edited directories.


Reciprocal Linking

  • Search the web for sites with topics related to your own using search engines and directories.
  • Contact the site owner personally to ask for a link to your site.
  • They are more likely to do so if you add a link to their web site from yours.
  • Follow up on linking requests


Effective Banner Ads

  • Paid Ads —   industry average click-through ratio around 0.4%. Compares to rate for direct 1.0% – 1.5% mail
  • Link Exchanges — Display banner ads on your site to earn displays on other web sites.
  • Targeted — find sites that match audience
  • Reach — Expose the greatest number of users to the banners
  • Creative Quality – Start out with several different banners and pull the least effective out of rotation after 1-2 weeks.
  • Creative Variety – To maximize clickthroughs, rotate banners often, since the rates goes down steadily the longer the banner is up.


E-mail Marketing

  • Opt-in only (with opt-out clear)
  • Collect visitors e-mail addresses on the web site.
  • Use off-line response devices to give constituents an opportunity to receive updates via e-mail


Evaluating E-Marketing

  • Of all media, web sites are probably the easiest to track.
  • Effective monitoring helps in decisions related to content and design.
  • Good feedback allows you to focus on the strategies that are working best.
  • Evaluation Methods
  • User Feedback
  • Search Engine Rankings
  • Web server log reports
  • “Real World” results — gifts, registrations, memberships, etc.


Summary – Successful Sites

  • Utilize an E-marketing strategy
  • Are designed effectively and include Meta Tags
  • Include good content that is updated regularly
  • Are E-marketed using a mix of tools
  • Are evaluated to measure success


Web Marketing Resources


written   04/21/2001

Emotions and Addiction Recovery – Anger

What is the role of anger in the recovery process?

Beyond the emotionally tumultuous days of the first few weeks of sobriety, people in addiction recovery then move into a second phase of early recovery.   As their mind and body begin to function on a more normal basis, a new crop of emotions begin to surface.   Once of the first, and most important of these is anger.

A. Emotions are not moral – It is a mistake to classify some feeling as “good” and others as “bad”.   There is nothing moral about them.   Emotions are God-given; the Bible even says that He has them – including anger.     There is a moral dynamic with emotions. It is in how we express them – how we act upon them – than whether we have them or not.   James says, “Be angry but do not sin.” (James 1:19-20)     Feelings are simply signals, usually with a physiological response, that can actually tell us more about how we perceive a given situation than pure unassisted logic.For people in recovery from an addiction, emotional understanding and freedom is essential if they are to grow, to feel good about their lives, and to really experience happiness.   If I don’t fully understand the emotional signals I am experiencing in my life, I’ll never truly know what’s inside of me and what makes me “tick.” Conversely, the inability to manage feelings in a healthy manner is a major reason that many fall back into using alcohol and drugs.   When sobriety becomes too painful and confusing, using mind-altering substances can seem like the only option.

B. The formation of emotional responses – Although our emotions are important indicators of how an individual actually perceives a given situation, they are often coming from an incorrect perception. One of the objectives of spiritual and emotional growth is getting one’s feelings get more in line with reality.     When you get right down to it, all of our feelings have evolved from many past experiences, usually in our childhood.   This is especially applicable to anger.     In most dysfunctional families, children are told that heavy emotions, like anger, are “bad” and they learn to feel ashamed about their anger.   In homes that are filled with rage and violence, they learn to fear anger, which to them always seems destructive.   Some learn to use anger and threats of violence to control others.     To complicate things further, to survive on the streets homeless addict cannot entrust their true selves to others, so they have a must harder time trusting, which they must have in order to attain emotional recovery.

C. The purpose of anger – If the emotion of anger is from God, then there must be a divine purpose for it.   I believe there are three.   The first is that anger reactions are basically a kind of emotional trip-wire, a survival mechanism that is God-given.   We react in anger to perceived threats, real or imagined.   Anger protects us from harm and loss.   Secondly, anger is designed to help us maintain healthy boundaries. Anger alerts us to threats to privacy needs, physical space needs, protection needs, and comfort needs.     And finally, anger is given by God to spur us on to action.   The physiological responses that accompany anger include increased blood pressure, muscle clenching, and a flood of adrenaline, positioning our bodies in an “attack mode.”

D. Healthy boundaries: the key to understanding anger – You have often said that the mission residential recovery program’s first goal is to create hope in our clients.   What are some ways we can accomplish this?

Before people can begin the process of change they must fully understand two basic truths; 1) that change is needed in a certain area of their lives and 2) that change is possible.     In previous installments, we have discussed strategies of breaking through the addict’s denial system, which is the starting point for his or her accepting the need for change.   But if we only convince people that their lives are a mess we may leave them in a place of despair.   We must create an environment full of hope where they can catch a vision for how their lives could be in Christ, along with giving the tools to build a life of faith and recovery.

E. Different expressions of anger –   When it comes to anger, there are basically two types of people:   “stuffers” and “blowers.”     In most cases, neither of these anger management styles is better then others.   But the extremes we see among homeless addicts is destructive. The “stuffers” have learned to handle their feelings, especially the difficult (or heavy) ones like anger, by pushing them deep inside and forgetting about them — denying them completely.   One the other hand, the extreme “blowers” have unusually strong anger reactions – everyone knows that they are mad.   They may even assault others, either verbally or physically.

For both types of people, healthy anger management comes down to understanding, developing and maintaining healthy boundaries.In dysfunctional family systems, the personal borders between the various members are blurred.   People cannot sort out “whose stuff is whose.”   This condition is at the very heart of the disorder we call “codependency.”   Instead of “Dad drinks because he is an alcoholic”, he drinks because mom does not keep the house clean or because the kids are not well behaved. Abused children, whose boundary have been violated violently then to live with messages like, “I’m not allowed to tell you to get out of my stuff.” “I don’t have a right to be angry when you hurt me.”     They become extreme “stuffers” whose biggest need is to understand that anger is OK.   They need to come to believe that personal boundaries are not only all right; there are essential. In other words, they need to adjust their boundaries outward.     Extreme “blowers” with destructive anger must learn to adjust their boundaries inward.   They become less hostile and defensive as they understand the deep-seated fears and attitudes that are at the root of their rage.   Often, some instruction in anger/stress management techniques is helpful.

A very helpful book on this topic are   Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend (Zondervan 1992)

F.        How staff members can help residents understand and manage anger – Self-revelation is probably the essential tool in the addict’s efforts toward emotional health.   All residents in recovery programs, whether they say it or not, are hoping that somehow they will be loved and that someone will truly care about them.   No matter how weird and crazy they behave, most could actually wear a button that says, and “I need to know that you love me. Am I OK?”   Most have their entire lives with the internal message that say that they’re not OK.     Few of us know what it’s like to walk around with years of accumulated toxic emotional junk inside.   Addicts live their lives with a suppressed accumulation of regret, remorse, anger, pain and guilt deep inside.Staff members need to help residents gain a sense that that it is all right to reveal what is within them, no matter how ugly.   Within groups settings and in one-on-one counseling sessions, there must be a consistent message that saying “No feeling is rejected in this place.”   We will deal with them, confront you on your incorrect perceptions, teach new ways to deal with anger – but we will never reject you for being real, honest, and vulnerable.

G. Scriptures Related to Anger and Resentment

James 1:19-20                                                                       Proverbs 19:11

Proverbs 20:22                                                                    Leviticus 19:18

Psalm 37:8-11                                                                         Proverbs 15:1

Matthew 5:21-26                                                              1 Peter 3:8-18

Proverbs 22:24