"When you're homeless, that causes stress," said Jen Stringfellow, Director of Women and Family Services at the mission.
Sometimes mental illnesses are hard to detect. Mission social service workers say that was likely the case with 38-year-old Gary Vinson. He's accused of setting a fire at the Shreveport Regional Arts Council and six other fires Tuesday morning.
"This person didn't have any obvious indications of being psychotic at the time we dealt with him. Otherwise we would have tried to get him into a situation where he got the help he needed," said Kerry Hemphill, Homeless Intervention Program Coordinator at the mission.
The Rescue Mission has a full-time nurse and two social workers on staff. They work together to spot the warning signs of mental illness. When they see a problem they make sure the person gets the help they need.
"We get together and we talk about those things. We'll determine if it’s been going on for sometime, or if there's anything we need to do right now," explained Hemphill.
Doctors also volunteer at the Rescue Mission. They offer a variety of health care services.
"It's a collaboration. We all communicate with each other about what's happening and make decisions about what needs to be done," added Stringfellow.
The Rescue Mission refers clients with mental illnesses to various community agencies where they can get help. When there's an immediate risk to the individual or others at the mission, police are called in to deal with the situation.
The National Coalition for the Homeless says the mentally ill homeless population has more contact with the legal system than homeless people who don't suffer from mental disorders. A 2003 study on homelessness and mental illness showed an average of 16-percent of the nation's adult homeless population suffers from some form of mental illness.