Mental health services must reach young homeless people


Preventive and primary care mental health services need to be more
accessible to young homeless people, according to a new Mental
Health Foundation report, writes Anabel Unity

It calls for more preventive measures to be taken to address the
mental health problems of young people living on the streets and in
transient accommodation.

It says: “There is compelling evidence that many homeless young
people suffer from severely degraded mental health. Mental health
problems are eight times as high for people living in hostels and
bed and breakfast accommodation and eleven times higher for those
who sleep rough, compared with the general population.”

The MHF report calls for the establishment of a national service
framework for children and young people’s mental health and
says early and pro-active services are essential along with
multiple intense support services.

Homelessness and mental health professionals are also advised to
listen to the experiences of young people with poor mental health.
The report says: “It is critical that young people’s voices
are heard, not just to map their routes into homelessness and its
impact on their mental health, but also to help workers assess the
availability and appropriateness of supportive provision.”

The report adds that the provision of secure and flexible
accommodation will have “preventive and healing effects” on young
people’s mental health. It also says that supported
accommodation and half-way houses are crucial resources for young

Tony Newman, the report’s editor and Barnardo’s
principal officer for research and development, said: “The large
majority of help needed by young people does not require specialist
forensic skills. It requires accessible, flexible services which
are available when people need them – not when we would prefer to
supply them – in settings where young people feel comfortable.”

A summary of ‘The Mental Health of Homeless Young People’ can be
downloaded by clicking
and a full copy of is available under ‘what’s new’ at

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