A significant number of the homeless kids who come to Covenant House suffer from mental health issues. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide attempts are all common among homeless youth. While some kids on the streets suffered from mental health issues even before they left home; others develop emotional difficulties due to the daily threats of violence and exploitation that they experience living on the street. In addition, the combination of abusive or neglectful childhoods combined with the hopelessness of street life is often so toxic that many of our kids turned to drug use to self-medicate or escape.
The Mental Health Crisis of Homeless Kids
One out of every five kids we see at Covenant House comes to our doors with a burden that's almost unimaginable – the burden of being mentally ill. And two out of every five kids we see suffer from severe depression and feelings of anxiety and aggression.
Homeless Kids Are Survivors
Many homeless kids with mental health issues today are the babies – the survivors – of the crack epidemic that invaded the streets of our cities 20 years ago. With their parents dead from drugs or AIDS, these kids have spent their entire lives fighting the odds to survive.
Many more are victims of a hidden and insidious danger that lurks over them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: severe psychological stress.
It's a known clinical fact that stress often leads to serious psychiatric disorders. And the stress of being a street kid is tremendous. Imagine what it's like to be 15 years old and wonder where your next meal will come from or where you're going to sleep, or walking the streets alone in the dark and the cold, never seeing a friendly face and always wondering when – not if – you're going to be abused and terrorized again. ...
Learn more about how Covenant House is working to expand our mental health programs to address the special problems homeless kids face.