Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 737–746 | Cite as

Taking it to the Street: A Psychiatric Outreach Service in Canada

  • Susan J. Farrell
  • James Huff
  • Sue-Ann MacDonald
  • Alison Middlebro
  • Steven Walsh


This paper describes a model of flexible psychiatric outreach service in Canada designed to meet the needs of persons who are homeless or marginally housed and have mental illness. The activities of the Psychiatric Outreach Team of the Royal Ottawa Hospital for individual clients and the community agencies who serve them are profiled, followed by a demographic and mental and physical health profile of the clients seen in the past year. The differences from other models of service and the benefits and limitations of this unique multidisciplinary team are discussed, with implications for future service development for this vulnerable population.

Key words

psychiatric outreach service model homelessness 


  1. Farrell, S., Reissing, E. 2004Picking up the challenge: Developing a methodology to assess the needs of the street homeless populationEvaluation Review28112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ginzler, J. A., Cochran, B. N., Domenech-Rodriguez, M., Cauce, A. M., Whitbeck, L. B. 2003Sequential progression of substance use among homeless youth: An empirical investigation of the gateway theorySubstance Use & Misuse38725758Google Scholar
  3. Gou, S., Biedel, D. E., Johnsen, J. A., Dyches, H. 2001Assessing the impact of community based mobile crisis services on preventing hospitalizationPsychiatric Services52223228Google Scholar
  4. Lam, J. A., Rosencheck, R. 1999Street outreach for homeless persons with serious mental illness: Is it effective?Medical Care37894907CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. McCartley, T. D., Yates, W. R. 1998Mobile outreach crisis services (MOCS): An innovative model for taking psychiatric care into the communityJournal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association91452456Google Scholar
  6. McChesney, K.Y. 1992Absence of a family safety net for homeless familiesSociology and Social Welfare195572Google Scholar
  7. McQuisiton, H. L., Finnerty, M., Hirschowitz, J., Susser, E. S. 2003Challenges for psychiatry in serving homeless people with psychiatric disordersPsychiatric Services54669676Google Scholar
  8. Morris, D. W., Warnock, J. K. 2001Effectiveness of a mobile outreach and crisis services unit in reducing psychiatric symptoms in a population of homeless persons with severe mental illnessJournal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association94343346PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Morse, G. A., Carlsyn, R. J., Miller, J., Rosenberg, P., West, L., Gilliland, J. 1996Outreach to homeless mentally ill people: Conceptual and clinical considerationsCommunity Mental Health Journal32261274CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Morse, G. A., Calsyn, R. J., Burger, G. K. 1992Development and cross-validation of a system for classifying homeless personsJournal of Community Psychology20228242Google Scholar
  11. North, C. S., Smith, E. M. 1992Post-traumatic stress disorder among homeless men and womenHospital and Community Psychiatry4310101016PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Nuttbrock, L., Rosenblum, A., Magura, S., McQuistion, H. 2003Broadening perspectives on mobile medical outreach to homeless peopleJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved14112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Plescia, M., Watts, G. R., Neibacher, S., Strelnick, H. 1997A multidisciplinary health care outreach team to the homeless: The 10-year experience of the Montefiore care for the homeless teamCommunity Health205869Google Scholar
  14. Poirier, H., Bonin, J-P., Lesage, A., Reinharz, D. 2000Évaluation de la qualité de vie et des besoins des personnes itinérantes atteintes de troubles mentaux graves: Perceptions d’une équipte itinérance-outreachSanté mentale au Québec15195215Google Scholar
  15. Pollack, D. 1997Gold Award: Linking mentally ill persons with services through crisis intervention, mobile outreach and community educationPsychiatric Services4714501453Google Scholar
  16. Power, C., Attenborough, J. 2003Up from the streets: A follow-up study of peple referred to a specialist team for the homelessly mentally illJournal of Mental Health124149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rosenblum, A., Nuttbrock, L., McQuinstion, H., Magrua, S, Joseph, H. 2002Medical outreach to homeless substance users in New York City: Preliminary resultsSubstance Use and Misuse3712691273CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Spence, S., Stevens, R., Parks, R. 2004Cognitive dysfunction in homeless adults: A systematic reviewJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine97375379PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Statistics Canada (2002). 2001 census: Collective dwellings. http://www.statcan.caGoogle Scholar
  20. Statistics Canada1998National Population Health SurveyAuthorOttawa, ONGoogle Scholar
  21. Steinhaus, D. A., Harley, D. A., Rogers, J. 2004Homelessness and people with affective disorders and other mental illnessesJournal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling353640Google Scholar
  22. Warner, R. 2004Recovery from Schizophrenia: Psychiatry and Political Economy(second edition)Bruner-RoutledgeNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Wenzel, S. L. 1992Length of time spent homeless: Implications for employment of homeless personsJournal of Community Psychology205771Google Scholar
  24. Wuenschel, P. C. 1997Houston homeless street outreachJournal of Community Practice46980Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan J. Farrell
    • 1
  • James Huff
    • 1
  • Sue-Ann MacDonald
    • 1
  • Alison Middlebro
    • 1
  • Steven Walsh
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Ottawa HospitalOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations