Behavioral Health Improvements Over Time among Adults in Families Experiencing Homelessness
In a study by Abt Associates on the experiences of those entering homeless shelters, data showed that behavioral health problems decreased over time for this population. Post-traumatic stress disorder was the only metric unchanged, but levels of psychological distress, alcohol dependence, and drug abuse all lessened at the 20-month and 37-month follow-up assessments. Coming in to the shelters, parents exhibited high levels of behavioral health problems, which were found to be more severe for those parents who were foster children or who experienced domestic violence. These high levels of behavioral health problems decreased over time due to multiple factors, including improved housing circumstances. Behavioral health measures improved more for those parents who became stably housed as opposed to those who continued to be homeless, although substance abuse made stability more difficult to attain. The report notes the policy implications that stable housing programs will likely reduce levels of psychological distress, and also that substance abuse counseling programs can help homeless families find housing stability.
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