Mental skills training improves well-being and employment outcomes for homeless youth

A young woman taking part in the MST4Life programme
A participant in the MST4Life programme, which aims to build resilience among young people at risk of homelessness.

Homelessness is a major social issue in the UK, costing the Government over £1 billion/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, particularly in Birmingham where youth homelessness was five times the national average in 2013-2014. 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.

Executive summary

  • My Strengths Training for Life™ (MST4Life™) is a programme developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham with St Basils, a homeless charity based in the West Midlands.

  • This is the first sport psychology intervention to be delivered in a housing service to homeless young people with multiple barriers to independence, and has led to significant improvements in their resilience, self-worth and well-being.

  • Participating in MST4Life™ increased the likelihood by 30 percentage points, over and above psychologically informed wrap-around support, that young people would exit homelessness engaged in education, employment or training.

  • We are looking to roll out this programme beyond the West Midlands and are actively looking for partners who could help us realise this aim. 


Dr Jennifer Cumming

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