Nav: Home

Pilot project offers blueprint for addressing mental health needs of homeless children

February 14, 2017

A research team led by North Carolina State University outlines the lessons learned in a five-year pilot project that was designed to help meet the mental health needs of children in homeless families - and could serve as a blueprint for similar efforts around the country.

"There have been very few programs focusing on the mental health needs of children experiencing homelessness, so by publishing this overview of the work, we're hoping it can serve as a template for similar efforts in other communities," says Mary Haskett, a professor of psychology at NC State and lead author of a peer-reviewed book chapter describing the work. "The scale of the problem is enormous," Haskett adds, pointing to a 2014 report from the National Center on Family Homelessness which found that 2.5 million children are homeless each year in the U.S.

At issue is a program called Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless (Project CATCH), which works with all 11 shelters in Wake County, N.C., that serve families. Project CATCH, which is implemented by The Salvation Army, has three focal points: services targeting children; services to help parents support the well-being of their children; and services to help shelters identify and meets the needs of families with children.

"We've learned a lot over the past five years," Haskett says. "For example, we found that by having all 11 family shelters in Wake County come together, they were better able to advocate collectively for improved community services - such as better access to Head Start, mental health providers and organizations that provide educational support.

"This not only helps kids and families, but has significantly boosted job satisfaction among shelter staff," she says.

CATCH has also helped researchers better understand the scope of mental health needs for children experiencing homelessness. For example, in 2015, Haskett's team published findings that 25 percent of children who are homeless are in need of mental health services.

"Project CATCH shows us that parents who are homeless want to help their children succeed, and they want the sort of support that CATCH can provide," Haskett says. "And this is not about creating new resources - it is about helping homeless families access resources that are already available in the community. Projects like CATCH are efficient, cost-effective and make a real difference for children. Over five years, Project CATCH has cost $121,000 annually and has helped approximately 2,000 children; Project CATCH currently serves 30-50 children a month.

"Now we want to help other areas replicate this model," Haskett adds.
-end-
The book chapter, "Interagency Collaboration to Promote Mental Health and Development of Children Experiencing Homelessness," is published in a book of peer-reviewed research titled Child and Family Well-Being and Homelessness. The chapter was co-authored by Jennifer Tisdale of the Salvation Army and Amy Leonard Clay, a Ph.D. student at NC State. Project CATCH has been funded by grants and support from John Rex Endowment, Wake County Smart Start, The Salvation Army of Wake County, AJ Fletcher Foundation, United Way of the Greater Triangle, NC, Waste Industries, and Chick-Fil-A.

North Carolina State University

Related Mental Health Articles:

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: Mental health harms related to very frequent social media use in girls might be due to exposure to cyberbullying, loss of sleep or reduced physical activity
Very frequent use of social media may compromise teenage girls' mental health by increasing exposure to bullying and reducing sleep and physical exercise, according to an observational study of almost 10,000 adolescents aged 13-16 years studied over three years in England between 2013-2015, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.
Can Facebook improve your mental health?
Contrary to popular belief, using social media and the internet regularly could improve mental health among adults and help fend off serious psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety, finds a new Michigan State University study.
A gut feeling for mental health
The first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health identifies specific gut bacteria linked to depression and provides evidence that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds.
Mental health care increasing most among those with less distress
A new study shows that more Americans are getting outpatient mental health care and the rate of serious psychological distress is decreasing.
On-again, off-again relationships might be toxic for mental health
A researcher from the University of Missouri says that the pattern of breaking up and getting back together can impact an individual's mental health and not for the better.
More Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...