Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Arts
Youth experiencing homelessness are often at a higher risk for developing concurrent mental health and addiction disorders. Existing interventions such as Housing First for Youth (H4FY) aim to provide youth experiencing homelessness with immediate access to safe, affordable housing as well as social inclusion and wellness supports. Furthermore, mental health interventions in the form of an integrated mental health and addictions (IMHA) service model have also been proposed to address the access barriers in place for youth experiencing homelessness, such as arbitrary exclusion criteria for substance use, long waiting periods and to further help them navigate the existing complex mental healthcare system. The Restart Project has been designed to test the effectiveness of combining both the HF4Y and IMHA services model to create a program that acts as a 'one-stop-shop' to address both housing and mental health and addictions (MHA) needs for youth. This study aimed to explore the experiences of quality of life among youth experiencing homelessness and assess the effect of the combined HF4Y and IMHA service model on quality of life (QoL) for youth aged 16-23 with concurrent MHA compared to regular access to services in the community. As a result of ongoing data collection within the Restart Project, the study includes 24 and 12 participants within the quantitative and qualitative data samples respectively. Drawing from pre-existing data from Restart, this project employed a convergent parallel mixed methods quasi-experimental design with qualitative interviews conducted at baseline from Toronto and quantitative data collected from baseline and 6 months from both the Toronto and Kelowna sites. QoL was measured using the World Health Organization Quality of Life-Brief Form (WHOQoL-BREF). Qualitative findings exhibit overall negative experiences while living in shelters for youth, as well as a number of challenges including but not limited to stigma, safety and hygiene. The quantitative results indicated a small increase over time for physical, social and environmental QoL domains across both arms with a small decrease in the intervention group for psychological QoL over 6 months. Collectively, these results highlight the harsh environments and significant challenges experienced by these youth, particularly in shelters, and suggest ways that housing programs like HF4Y can support this population.
Choudhary, Wilsy, "Experiences of quality of life among youth experiencing homelessness, mental health problems, and addictions" (2023). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2587.
Available for download on Tuesday, September 02, 2025