More preventive measures needed for young homeless

Preventive and primary care mental health services need to be more
accessible to young homeless people, according to a new Mental
Health Foundation report published this week.

The Mental Health of Homeless Young People report calls
for more preventive measures to be taken to address the mental
health problems of young people living on the streets and in
short-term 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 11 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 proactive 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 for young people.

Tony Newman, the report’s editor and Barnardo’s principal officer
for research, said: “Most of the help needed by young people does
not require specialist forensic skills. It requires accessible,
flexible services that are available when people need them and in
settings where young people feel comfortable.”

The Mental Health of Homeless Young People is available

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