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National Homeless Advice Service

Mental health

This page looks at research and good practice in considering the mental health needs of young people in the provision of services to them.

Youth Access - Youth Advice: a mental health intervention?

This publication from Youth Access provides a summary of a research study on the mental health benefits and cost-effectiveness of youth advice services.

The report is available from Youth Access.

Scope of the study

The study focused on young people attending youth advice services for social welfare advice, defined as advice to individuals on their rights in relation to everyday problems concerning housing, homelessness, welfare benefits,money/debt, employment rights, education rights, consumer rights or immigration.

Design of the study

The study was designed to:

  • measure the mental health of young people in youth advice settings, comparing their scores on a standardised mental health instrument to a range of other groups
  • assess the impact problems have had on their lives and the associated costs of some of these impacts
  • identify what impact getting advice has had on their lives
  • quantify the cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness of advice, with particular regard to health-related benefits.

Conclusions of the research

The findings demonstrate the benefits to mental health of social welfare advice provided in young person-friendly settings and the importance of an advice model that acknowledges and responds to young people’s significant emotional and mental health needs.

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St. Basils using organisational change to cater for client need

An increasing proportion of young people who receive accommodation and support from St Basils have complex emotional and mental health needs.

This led to a decision to develop St Basils as a psychologically informed environment (PIE) organisation. It is the first youth homelessness organisation to take this approach with young people.

PIE aims to encourage positive change by consciously addressing the emotional and social elements of a person’s life and past traumas. These are treated as integral to helping them tackle practical issues and challenges. Change can be expressed in different ways, for example an ability to establish and maintain relationships or changes in behaviour and emotions.

St Basils is working directly with Dr Nick Maguire and a research colleague from Southampton University to develop and implement this programme over a three-year period.

All staff working with young people have had specialist training and ongoing reflective practice support from mental health professionals in a local community mental health team.

A 3-year independent evaluation is being carried out to assess whether the investment in the PIE approach is successful for young people in housing need. A number of targets have been set against existing baseline data.

For more information about the PIE evaluation, contact the office of the chief executive at St Basils.

The research and statistics page in this section has more information about Southampton University’s research work on developing psychologically informed services for homeless people.

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