Today is World Mental Health Day, an important day for us to remember the close relationship between youth homelessness and mental health. When young people and their families do not get the services they need to manage their mental health challenges, their risk of becoming homeless increases. This is why accessible mental health services are so important to homelessness prevention.
Homelessness is a traumatic experience and can easily lead to mental health issues. Without a Home identified that 85% of homeless youth reported ‘high’ levels of mental health symptoms/distress.
This compounding effect can become a difficult cycle to break. Eva’s makes every effort to help youth access the right supports and services so they can get access to housing and healing.
Victor lived with his father in a basement apartment. It was a very difficult, stressful time. Victor had a job but his father would take all his money almost as fast as it came in. Even though Victor wanted to get out of the situation, there was no money left to move out and afford rent somewhere else.
It’s at a local community centre that Victor first learned about applying to Eva’s Phoenix, a transitional housing facility for 50 youth, set up as shared townhouses. Now that Victor’s here in his own safe space, things are better. “Now I don’t have to think about my father all the time, worrying about money being taken away,” Victor explains. “I have something of my own—my own key, my own stuff. That’s really been helping me feel better about my situation.”
At Eva’s, Victor says he has found caring and understanding support. “They help me even when I’m having my really bad ‘brain days’,” Victor says, sharing the important mental health supports staff give him on a consistent basis. “I know they see the big difference between when I started and where I am now.”
Eva’s has helped Victor get to a place where he can look forward to the future. He plans to go to college to become certified in addictions counseling. “I like to help people,” Victor says. “I want to help people realize they’re not alone and there’s someone who understands. It’s okay to be in a bad situation because you will get out of it. It’s hard, but there is a way.”
Victor believes that people with addictions are often overlooked by society and he wants to change that. “I want to help people with addictions who are having a hard time coping,” he explains. “They don’t have many people to look out for them. It hurts, and I want to see people get better. I want to see everyone around me be happy and feel good.”
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