Willamette Week Higher Rates of Psychotic Episodes

Willamette Week Sheds Light On Higher Rates of Psychotic Episodes in Old Town Prompt Homeless Service Providers to Hatch Deescalation Plan


Old Town hosts the greatest concentration of homeless Portlanders in the city. Kerman and other providers say women are having psychotic episodes in Old Town at an unprecedented rate. The nonprofits don’t want to call police on homeless people in distress, but they’re also not trained to soothe the conflicts themselves.

Increasingly compounding traumas contribute to mental distress too, says Liz Starke, development director at Rose Haven, another homeless services nonprofit, in the Alphabet District. Such traumas include inescapable heat waves and social services closing their indoor spaces due to the pandemic.

Degradation on mental health has been really visible,” she says. And being a woman on the streets, Starke says, adds another layer of potential violence and vulnerability.”

Photo credits to OPB

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