The mental health needs of homeless young people

Among the general youth population, rates of poor mental health issues are worryingly high. These rates are even higher for young people experiencing homelessness. This research report explored the full extent of the problem and investigated the prevalence of a range of mental health problems, including those that have not been formally diagnosed by mainstream health services.

Executive summary

Mental health issues and formal diagnoses occur within 10-20% of young people not experiencing homelessness. However, the prevalence of mental health issues and formal diagnoses are even more prevalent within the population of Centrepoint young people analysed for this research. This report outlines the prevalence of various mental health issues and formal diagnoses among homeless young people. Additionally, it explores substance misuse, the impacts of sleeping rough, and regional disparities in mental health issues.

The report also highlights the bespoke support offered by Centrepoint’s health team and the impact this approach can have in the lives of homeless young people. Furthermore, the report recognises the importance of statutory services in addressing the needs of homeless young people. However, several barriers to accessing these services are outlined and advocacy is recommended to help young people navigate the statutory system.

Key findings and recommendations


  • Mental health issues were reported in over half (54.1%) of homeless young people.
  • Around a third of young people (32.3%) had formal mental health diagnoses.
  • Mental health problems were found to be more likely among young people with experience of sleeping rough


  • Local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) should consider working with specialist providers to provide mental health support to the most vulnerable young people.
  • When Local Authorities commission accommodation and support services, we strongly advocate the integration of health services into the tendering specification and contract value to ensure the most vulnerable young people’s mental health needs are addressed.
  • Statutory services should consider ways to better integrate different strands of health support, including those that are paid for through different funding streams. This would allow the needs of each individual to be better met through a holistic package of support.