Camden County, N.J., Provides Hope to Its Homeless Residents

Field of Work: Integrating treatment for homeless people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

Problem Synopsis: Significant numbers of homeless people suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. Studies show that integrating treatment services for these two problems is more effective in reducing substance abuse, homelessness, and severity of mental health symptoms than sequential or parallel treatment.

Synopsis of the Work: Project H.O.P.E. provides health services to homeless people living in Camden County, N.J. Staff developed a treatment model that provides primary care, mental health, and substance abuse treatment on-site at a homeless services agency where homeless people already receive services.

The model features interdisciplinary teams that screen, assess, and recruit participants, outreach and follow-up, electronic medical records, and improved access to physician-prescribed psychotropic medications.

Key Results

  • An annual average of 200 homeless people received treatment that simultaneously and seamlessly addresses both their mental health and substance abuse disorders.
  • Some 68 percent of participants who remained in the program met their goals for medication use and/or substance abstinence.
  • Some 80 percent who completed at least five visits demonstrated an increased readiness for substance abuse recovery and mental health treatment.
  • Compliance with medication use improved as a result of immediate assessment of medication needs and access to medications.