The Mental and Physical Health of Homeless Youth: A Literature Review

Literature Review Analysis


The Mental and Physical Health of Homeless Youth: A Literature Review is a psychology article that explores the causes and effects of homelessness in the United States. Importantly, it reveals that approximately 1.6 million American youths spend their night in streets, shelters, and various temporary accommodation, making homelessness a significant problem in the country (Edidin, Ganim, Hunter, & Karnik, 2012). The rationale behind this high number of people without a home is rising abuse cases in society that orchestrated to victims either from family members and other non-family members. Such abuse is in the form of physical assault, rape, which compels involved parties to leave their homes searching for shelter. Additionally, the disruptive relationship among members of a family is believed to forces youths to the streets.

Homelessness among the youth population has severe effects on their mental health. Notably, it negatively impacts neurocognitive development. This is because the adolescent and early adulthood periods are when the body undergoes psychological and physical development. In fact, during this phase of human life is when there is rapid brain development. For instance, at this stage is when the prefrontal cortex undergoes, which is responsible for executive reasoning, undergoes maturation (Edidin, Ganim, Hunter, & Karnik, 2012). Important to note, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for executive reasoning, enabling people to make decisions, plan, strategize, regulate their emotions, and have a good working memory. Since homeless youth live in poor conditions, this external environment is full of stress and deprivation, thus unsuitable for proper brain development. As a consequence, they are poor in academic and cognitive tasks

Also, homelessness has a myriad of problems. For instance, most of them end abusing hard drugs such as marijuana and cocaine that have an addiction, which further worsens their situation. Additionally, most of them practice unsafe sex. Consequently, they end up contracting sexually transmitted infections (Edidin, Ganim, Hunter, & Karnik, 2012). Also, poor living conditions give rise to chronic disease, which causes psychiatric disorders that hurt mental health. The outlined effects deteriorate because they do not have financial resources to access healthcare facilities to seek treatment.


The literature review in question agrees with other online article journals, which highlight issues of homeless youths. According to Dwomoh & Dinolfo (2018), homelessness is caused by a breakdown of the family that emerges from domestic violence. Additionally, the mentioned authors reveal that homelessness affects children in many ways. However, the major one is the disruption of neurocognitive abilities that causes children and young adults to perform poorly in cognitive tasks, thus leading to low grades. Therefore the article reveals that homelessness affects physical and mental development. For this reason, it must be addressed to safeguard their future

Also, the literature review in question reveals that homelessness has a relationship with mental health. It is important to note that this concurs with empirical evidence gathered from 80 adolescents of African descent. Important to note, this particular research pointed out that homelessness stigma and racial discrimination among black people cause depressive symptoms, which indicates poor mental health among black adolescents and young adults (Gattis & Larson, 2016). Notably, the research finding also indicated that suicidality has no relationship with prejudice. Therefore, the outlined study shows that homelessness status and racial discrimination are behind mental health issues. For this reason, it essential and ethical to address the discrimination and homeless stigma to safeguard the adolescent and young adult from mental problems.


Dwomoh, I., & Dinolfo, E. A. (2018). Effects of homelessness on children.

Edidin, J. P., Ganim, Z., Hunter, S. J., & Karnik, N. S. (2012). The mental and physical health of homeless youth: A literature review. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 43(3), 354-375.

Gattis, M. N., & Larson, A. (2016). Perceived racial, sexual identity, and homeless status-related discrimination among Black adolescents and young adults experiencing homelessness: Relations with depressive symptoms and suicidality. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry86(1), 79.

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