Homelessness is a major social issue in the UK, costing the Government over £1 billion pounds/year and resulting in the large-scale deterioration of mental and physical health, sustained social isolation, and low life expectancy. Young people aged 16-24 are disproportionately affected and these problems will persist and escalate into adulthood unless we support homeless young people to overcome their multiple and complex barriers to being healthier and economically independent.
Based on similar mental skills training programmes used with elite athletes, our project aimed to:
- Identify which mental skills are important for helping homeless young people progress towards independence
- Co-create and deliver a programme in partnership with St Basils to reach, engage, and improve well-being and employability in homeless young people who are NEET and facing multiple barriers to independence.
- Develop young people’s mental skills and provide opportunities to learn and practice these skills using psychologically and pedagogically-informed approaches.
- Build sustainability into the programme by training St Basils’ staff to co-deliver MST4Life™.
Our research has shown that the mental skills training approaches more commonly used in sport can be successfully adapted to improve the well-being and employability of homeless young people across a wide range of support needs (e.g., expectant and young parents, care leavers). It has also identified key ingredients for successful interventions with homeless young people, including: be led by the participants; provide opportunities to develop social connections and competence; and be experiential, fun and group-based in nature.