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National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Mental Health Outcomes Among Homeless, Runaway, and Stably Housed Youth

Gerwirtz, J.R., Edinburgh, L.D., Barnes, A.J., McRee, A.
Type new
Journal Article
Year published new

American Academy of Pediatrics

Journal Name


Volume new

This journal article describes a study that sought to assess differences in mental health outcomes among runaway youth and homeless youth. Both populations are at risk for adverse mental health outcome and are frequently pooled together in both research and interventions yet may have unique health needs. The researchers conducted a secondary data analysis of 9- and 11th-graders in the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey (n=68,785). They categorized youth into four subgroups based on housing status in the previous year: (1) unaccompanied homeless youth (0.5%), (2) runaway youth (4%), (3) youth who had both run away and been homeless (0.6%), and (4) stably housed youth (95%). They found that unstably housed youth had poorer mental health outcomes when compared with their stably housed peers. For example, 11% of homeless youth, 20% of runaways, and 33% of youth who had experienced both had attempted suicide in the previous year compared with 2% of stably housed youth. The findings suggest that runaway and homeless youth represent unique populations with high levels of mental health needs who would benefit from targeted clinical and community interventions. Pediatric clinicians represent one potential point of screening and intervention. (author abstract modified)


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Accession number
Electronically published journal article, but not part of an issue