Tag Archives: homeless

Your Adult Child with Mental Illness is Homeless. Now What?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2015 Nancy Virden

streets of new york at night

(A mother of an adult son with mental illness, who was also homeless, shares what she assumes may be a common experience for other parents. Some details are specific to her and her son. Anonymity requested.)

“But… but… but…” Your thoughts trail off into the more subdued world of imagination and hopes.

Your son, in a rare correspondence, has just told you he is sleeping in the streets and in shelters. Your greatest desire in the moment is to rush to get him, to provide for him a bed, a meal, a bath.

Why is this happening? Why has that beautiful, intelligent, creative little boy grown up to live such a life? Fear and worry rush in to take over your mood again. Will it rain tonight? Is he cold? Does he have anything to eat? Is he safe?

You pause. He is alive, he contacted you, maybe he is seeing a psychiatrist. Maybe he is taking his medications.

Lord, Defend them in every battle, shelter them in every storm and destroy every mountain in their way.  – Prayer for the Children,  Cheryce Rampersad

It would be so much simpler if you knew where he was. He won’t tell you. He won’t tell  because he knows you will want to rescue him and bring him under your protection. He’d rather roll the dice and try to make it on his own.

You know this is at least partially understandable! What adult wants to be under the care of a parent, with his or her “suggestions” and anxious comments? So you try to not ask questions or offer unrequested advice.

It feels like you sat on a bed of nails; each dangerous move hurts in a different spot of your body, mind, and spirit. So, what’s next?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. – Serenity Prayer (circa 1934)

Does he know how important his medications are to his wellbeing? Check.  Does he understand he can always come home? Check. Does he have insurance or at least know how to get help? Check.  

You can pray, ask others to do the same, and keep your door open. He knows he is not rejected. Check. He is in God’s hands. Check.

Now it’s time to let go for today, and take care of yourself. Rest. You matter too. 


P.S. Special request from a reader:  “Would like to hear how other parents are taking care of themselves and moving on with their lives under these crueling circumstances.”    See tab below to make a comment


For a directory of services for the homeless by state, go to: https://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/ 


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*photo from qualitystockphotos.com