Personal control and service connection as paths to improved mental health and exiting homelessness among severely marginalized homeless youth


Non-service connected, continuously homeless youth are arguably one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. These youth reside at society's margins experiencing an accumulation of risks over time. Research concludes that as vulnerabilities increase so do poor long-term outcomes. This study tested the mediating effects of service connection and personal control as mediators of cumulative risk and housing, health and mental health outcomes. By understanding the processes associated with therapeutic change among those with the most vulnerabilities, service providers and researchers can target those factors to enhance positive outcomes.


Seventy-nine, non-service connected, substance using homeless youth were offered a strengths-based outreach and engagement intervention and were assessed at baseline 3, 6 and 9 months post-baseline.


Personal control mediated the effects of cumulative risk on housing stability, and service utilization mediated the effects of cumulative risk on mental health.


This study specifies important targets of intervention for a population at high risk for continuing homelessness. In particular, service providers should target youths' sense of personal control and link them to needed community-based services in order to help them exit street life and improve mental health outcomes.

Publication Date: 
In press
Journal Name: 
Children and Youth Services Review