Methods: A sub-sample of 173 FHYA (ages 18-26) from the Homeless Youth Risk and Resilience Survey (HYRRS) were used for this study. FHYA consisted of young adults who were housed in their own apartment (via voucher from Housing and Urban Development or another source) or in transitional living programs. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to examine the associations between demographic and individual psychosocial factors (i.e., adverse childhood experiences, help seeking intentions, and social support), and mental well-being. Mental well-being was measured using the following dependent variables: Stress on the Streets scale (Rew, et al., 2016), a 15-item measure of young adults’ perceived stress about different circumstances (e.g., food insecurity, employment, safety); the Perceived Stress Scale 4 (PSS-4); the Kessler Screening Scale for Psychological Distress (K6); the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9); and a 4-item composite score measuring post-traumatic stress symptoms (PC-PTSD).
Results: Participants were 77% White, 55% men, and averaged 21 years old (SD=1.72). About 90% of participants perceived “a little” to “a lot of stress” on at least one of the 15 items on the Stress on the Streets scale. Participants average score on the PSS-4 was 10.61 (SD=2.98) with higher scores indicating increased stress. About 34% of participants experienced serious psychological distress (cut-point of 13+); 24% met criteria for moderately severe or severely depressed, and 36% experienced post-traumatic stress symptoms (cut-point of 3+) in the past month. Controlling for other variables, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs; b=1.31, p <.001), and help-seeking intentions (b=0.71, p <.001) were positively related to Stress on the Streets. ACEs (b=0.83, p <.001), and help-seeking intentions (b=0.34, p <.001) were positively associated with psychological distress. ACEs (b=0.87, p <.001), and help-seeking intentions (b=0.38, p <.001) were positively associated with depression, whereas coping (b=-1.02, p <.05) was negatively associated with depression. ACEs (b=0.18, p <.001), and help-seeking intentions (b=0.05, p <.05) had a positive relationship with post-traumatic stress symptoms. None of the variables significantly predicted perceived stress.
Conclusions and Implications: Despite their housing status and their efforts to cope and seek help from others, participants in this study experienced stress, psychological distress, depression, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. The implications of these findings suggest that FHYA who transition to independent living may need support navigating and coping with stressful life events as well as a stronger network of community services to help them improve their own mental well-being.