World Health Organisation (2016) defines mental health as:
‘… a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’
Mental health issues are a major contributor and consequence of youth homelessness within Australia.
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (2002) outlines a number of behaviours and symptoms which may be experienced by those living with a mental illness, these behaviours, which are listed belong, may provide insight into why some young people continue to struggle to find consistent tenure:
• inability to perform routine living tasks;
• persistent feelings of high anxiety leading to isolation; fear of panic attacks making it stressful to use public transport, shop or leave home;
• extreme mood swings, from depression and sadness to elation and excitement;
• delusions, such as feelings of persecution, which may cause interaction with other
• hallucinations, which can distort the senses, creating fear, confusion and unreal
• thought disorder, which may lead to speech becoming difficult to follow;
• aggressive behaviour towards others, arising from fear, unreal thoughts, frustration or
influences of substance abuse.
Based on this list it is easy to understand why the impact and behaviours experienced by those who suffer from a mental illness may cause one to try to leave the safety of their home. The other side of mental illness being a cause of youth homelessness, surrounds the pressures of copping and caring for a people with a mental illness has on a family. The National Youth Commission suggests that serious mental health issues may place increased stress on families, resulting in conflict and an inability for parents to manage the situation, this in turn may too be a trigger for young people to leave their home. In order to combat this greater support and education for parents may be beneficial in reducing the rates of youth homelessness. Taking away the stigma surrounding mental health and instead offer greater awareness and education surrounding the signs, symptoms and how to address, and access assistance would beneficial to those who are or believe to be suffering a mental health illness. The result of this would be an improved society on a much larger scale.
World Health Organisation (2016) Mental health: a state of well-being, <www.who.int/features/
fact les/mental_health/en/index.html>, accessed 06-04-2017.
O’Brien A, Inglis S, Herbert T & Reynolds A. (2002). Linkages between housing and support: what is important from the perspective of people living with a mental illness. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), Swinburne/ Monash Research Centre / Ecumenical Housing Inc.