New research by Centrepoint has led to warnings by the youth homelessness charity about the toll the pandemic has taken on the mental health of the young people living in their services.
The research found that prior to the pandemic over half (54.1%) of the young people living in Centrepoint’s hostels were experiencing mental health issues, three quarters (75.5%) of whom were suffering from two or more mental health issues.
The charity warns that the situation is likely to have worsened since the first lockdown in March 2020 as demand for its mental health services has risen by 40%.
Alongside the increasing numbers of homeless young people experiencing mental health problems, the research highlights the longer-term emotional and mental effects of sleeping on the streets.
The charity found that 3 in 5 (68.4%) Centrepoint residents who had previously slept rough on the streets had mental health issues, compared to just over half (51%) of young people who had not slept rough.
Centrepoint says the figures, when taken alongside increases in youth unemployment and rough sleeping over the past 12 months means supporting young people’s mental health is more important than ever.
Balbir Chatrik, Director of Policy at Centrepoint, said:
“Our research shows that even before the pandemic the trauma of homelessness and rough sleeping was taking a huge toll on the mental health of homeless young people.
“It is not surprising that more young people now need support from our health team as the lockdowns are not only triggering past traumas, but many of those we support are dealing with increased levels of stress after losing their jobs.
“In light of the ongoing difficulties the pandemic is causing we must ensure that charities and local services receive appropriate funding to identify and quickly address young people’s mental health needs.”