The Need for Early Mental Health Intervention to Strengthen Resilience in Street-involved Youth - Homeless Hub Research Summary Series

It is widely known that mental health challenges are common in youth who are street-involved, and include depression, hopelessness, self-harm, as well as issues with substance use. There is also a clear relationship between the stress of homelessness and emotional distress, such as depression and suicide. Futhermore, the mental health challenges of street-involved youth may interfere with their ability to access services to improve their overall circumstances. This indicates a need for evidence-based approaches to address the severe and complex mental health problems of homeless youth. Improving their mental health is a critical factor in enabling them to participate in services. Effective approaches such as those that focus on developing skills to build relationships, manage distress and strengthen motivation can disrupt a negative spiral while, at the same time, validating and providing skills to support positive choices and behaviours. Despite the harsh circumstances homeless youth experience, many still hope for a better future, and demonstrate remarkable resilience, or ability to cope with adversity. Programs and services should focus on the strengths and resilience of homeless youth.

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Gaetz, S., O’Grady, B., Buccieri, K., Karabanow, J., & Marsolais, A. (Eds.), Youth Homelessness in Canada: Implications for Policy and Practice. Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press.

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