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    Behavioral Health Care Delivery Through Street Medicine Programs in California

    Community Mental Health Journal

    Year: 2023

    Mental health and substance use disorders are prevalent among people experiencing homelessness. Street Medicine can reach unhoused people who face barriers to accessing healthcare in more traditional medical settings including shelter-based clinics. However, there is little guidance on best practices for mental health and substance use treatment through Street Medicine. The aim of the study was to describe behavioral health care through Street Medicine by analyzing data from the California Street Medicine Landscape survey and follow-up qualitative interviews. Most street medicine programs utilize non-psychiatrists to diagnose and treat mental health and substance use disorders, though the capacity to provide the level of care needed varies. There is a lack of street-based psychiatric clinicians and programs have difficulty making referrals to mental health and addiction services. This report shows that Street Medicine could serve as a strategy to expand access to behavioral health care for the unhoused.

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