Merging the Fields of Mental Health and Social Enterprise: Lessons from Abroad and Cumulative Findings from Research with Homeless Youths

Despite the growing integration of supported employment within the mental health system in the United States as well as the widespread use of social enterprises abroad, the fields of mental health and social enterprises remain largely separate in the USA. The mental health field currently lacks a response that strengthens homeless youths’ existing human and social capital, provides them with marketable job skills and employment, and impacts their mental health. To address this gap, this paper establishes a case for using social enterprises with homeless youths, drawing on both global precedents and findings from a mixed-methods study of a social enterprise intervention with homeless youths. Recommendations are offered for how to integrate social enterprises with mental health treatment as well as how to evaluate their impact on mental health outcomes.

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Community Mental Health Journal