220414 Youth on the Street: Maltreatment, Mental Health and Addictions

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Tiffany Thornton, MSW, CTRS , Health Canada, Canadian Federal Government, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Adolescents who live on the street represent a vulnerable population with maltreatment, poly-drug abuse and mental health problems frequently co-occurring. To date, the impact of these factors has not been well documented in Canada.

The purpose of the present study was to examine rates of, and factors contributing to, co-occurring mental health and substance use problems using data from the Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathways (MAP) and the Youth Pathways Projects (YPP), which include youth who are homeless (N=125; YPP only) and youth involved in the child welfare system (N=79; MAP and YPP). A substantial percentage of youth who were homeless reported a history of involvement with child welfare services (n=64; 42.7% of the homeless sample).

The preliminary results reveal that adolescents currently living on the street have higher rates of alchol (OR=3.9)and drug abuse (OR=3.8). In addition, these youth are almost 6 times more likely to abuse alchol and have mental health issues(OR=5.7) and 8 times (OR=8.2) more likely to abuse drugs and have mental health issues compared to those in the child welfare system. These findings have important implications for policy and practice, they include a)exmaining policies related to exiting the child welfare system b)increasing access to affordable housing for adolescents who are living on the street and c) developing and evaluating targeted prevention programs for adolescents living on the street with childhood maltreatment and comorbidity.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the current health status of adolescents living on the streets who may or may not have a history of involvement in the child welfare system. Discribe the methods used in the study to differentiate the rates of, and factors contributing to, co-occuring mental health and substance use problems for adolescents living on the street Identify implications for policy and practice for service providers working with youth who are living on the street.

Keywords: Homelessness, Adolescent Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an investigator/author in the research study. As well,I am a senior research analyst and oversee research related to vulneralbe populations with co-morbidity issues
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.