Examining the effectiveness of an integrated housing, mental health and addiction service model for youth experiencing homelessness

Maritt Kirst, Wilfrid Laurier University

About Maritt

Fundings
CA$545,895.00 over 4 years

Major partners
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH); CMHA Kelowna; Skylark, East Metro Youth Services, Covenant House, Eva’s, YMCA GTA, and University of British Columbia – Okanagan

Abstract
Youth experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of experiencing a range of challenges including poor nutrition, low social functioning, substance use and abuse, poor mental health, victimization and violence, and limited access to healthcare and other services. A small body of research has found high rates of co-occurring mental health and substance use problems among this population. Several studies have reported that youth experiencing homelessness and concurrent disorders either do not seek treatment due to stigma, or have difficulty navigating these fragmented systems. While promising service models exist, there is a lack of knowledge of how these services can be combined to support youth experiencing homelessness with complex needs. The proposed study seeks to address this gap by rigorously testing the effectiveness of an integrated intervention (Housing First for Youth) tailored to better meet the housing, mental health and addiction service needs of youth experiencing homelessness and concurrent disorders (CDs).