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Keywords:

  • Intervention;
  • mental health symptoms;
  • resilience;
  • self-esteem;
  • social connectedness;
  • street-involved youth;
  • mental health intervention;
  • relationships;
  • street youth;
  • homelessness;
  • homeless youth

PROBLEM:  Street-involved youth experience a range of mental health problems with elevated rates of psychiatric disorders compared with non-homeless youth. The overall objective of this pilot study was to evaluate the impact of a relationship-based intervention for homeless youth receiving services from agencies in downtown Toronto.

METHODS:  The final sample included 15 homeless youth who met the study inclusion criteria. The intervention and comparison groups were compared at baseline and post-treatment on measures of mental health symptoms, hopelessness, self-esteem, resilience, and social connectedness.

FINDINGS:  Participants receiving the intervention demonstrated a significant improvement in social connectedness, with a trend toward decreased hopelessness. Those participants who did not receive the intervention did not demonstrate any improvements in social connectedness and hopelessness.

CONCLUSION:  This preliminary pilot study suggests that providing a relationship-based intervention to street-involved youth may offer promise to strengthen social relationships and to mitigate overwhelming hopelessness and despair.