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.
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.