Implementing the Street Psychiatry Model in New Haven, CT: Community-Based Care for People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness


“Street psychiatry” is an innovative model that serves people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, a vulnerable population with increased rates of mental illness and substance use disorders. Through community-based delivery of mental health and addiction treatment, street psychiatry helps the street-dwelling population overcome barriers to accessing care through traditional routes. Throughout the United States, street psychiatry programs have arisen in multiple cities, often in partnership with street medicine programs. We discuss the philosophy of street psychiatry, document operational highlights involved in the development of a street psychiatry program in New Haven, CT, suggest key ingredients to implementing a street psychiatry program, and explore challenges and future frontiers. Street psychiatry is an effective person-centered model of service delivery with the potential to be applied in a variety of urban settings to serve people experiencing street homelessness.

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Dr. Balasuriya is supported by the Yale National Clinician Scholars Program and by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Academic Affiliations through the VA/National Clinician Scholars Program and Yale University. These views do not in any capacity represent the federal government or the VA. This work was funded in part by the State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, but this publication does not express the views of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services or the State of Connecticut. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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Correspondence to Emma Lo.

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This retrospective chart review study involving human participants was in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Human Investigation Committee (IRB) of Yale University approved this study.

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Lo, E., Lifland, B., Buelt, E.C. et al. Implementing the Street Psychiatry Model in New Haven, CT: Community-Based Care for People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness. Community Ment Health J (2021).

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  • Street psychiatry
  • Street medicine
  • Homeless
  • Unsheltered homelessness
  • Serious mental illness
  • Implementation