Tackling social isolation and loneliness in homeless young people through the MST4Life™ programme
PHE ePoster Library. Quinton M. Sep 12, 2017; 186576; 92
Mary Quinton
Mary Quinton
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Abstract Introduction: Social isolation is not just a problem for the elderly. Vulnerable young people also experience social isolation and loneliness, which increases their risk of becoming homeless and can lead to stress, depression, and suicidal ideation. Conversely, feelings of connectedness are associated with resilience, greater meaningfulness in life, and better physical, mental, and social health. Unfortunately, support seeking interventions for this group are scarce. Therefore, MST4Life™ is a positive youth development programme that encourages greater self-awareness of personal strengths and development of mental skills including support seeking. This presentation reports the social health outcomes of the programme (i.e., 10 weekly sessions and a 4 day outdoor adventure residential).Method: Qualitative data was collected using informal interviews and innovative evaluation methods (e.g., diary room entries) with 40 homeless young people living in supported accommodation and 6 support staff. Results: Inductive thematic analysis revealed three key social health outcomes of MST4Life™: increasing confidence in social interactions, tackling isolation, and developing leadership and teamwork skills. The data also highlighted mental health benefits from a support seeking activity (e.g., knowing who to contact in a crisis).Conclusion: Taking part in MST4Life™ elicits key social and mental health benefits for homeless young people who typically have lower interpersonal skills and resilience levels than the general population. Future public health interventions should consider support seeking as an essential mental skill to include when working with this population to help work towards a healthier, fairer society. External funding details This research was funded by Public Health England, St Basil's, University of Birmingham, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Edith Murphy Foundation.
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