Earlier this year we co-authored a report based on data collected in the Youth Survey with the Black Dog Institute looking at young people and mental illness over the past five years; prior to that we produced a report on young people and homelessness. Both of these reports were alarming to me, with the youth mental health report showing just how many young people were reporting mental illness and the youth homelessness report showing how many young people had experienced ‘couch surfing’ – staying away from home for short periods of time on couches, floors or in other insecure housing situations with relatives or friends.

In this Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report, we took a further look at the findings to see how mental illness and homelessness were related.

The report finds that those young people who had a probable serious mental illness were more likely to experience couch surfing and on more occasions than those without a probable serious mental illness.

Additionally, those who reported having poor family functioning were more likely to have a probable serious mental illness, as well as being more likely to report couch surfing behaviours. This reveals that mental illness and poor family functioning both increase the risk of homelessness, while homelessness and poor family functioning also increase the risk of serious mental illness.

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