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Homelessness and psychosocial resources: the role of stress and psychological capital


Journal of Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry
Tony Cassidy,1 Patrice Reilly2

Abstract

Objective: Homelessness is widely recognised as a social problem which has major health consequences for those who experience the condition. The aims of the study were to a) to develop a brief homelessness stress scale based on previous evidence, b) determine whether the experience of being homeless is a source of psychological distress, c) determine whether stress is associated with negative health behaviour and psychological disturbance and d) investigate psychosocial variables that may mediate the experience of stress. 

Method: A total of 189 individuals (132 males and 57 females) experiencing homelessness, based in one of two UK cities completed face-to face surveys with validated measures focusing on psychological capital, social support, health behaviours, stress, and psychological wellbeing. 
Results: Participants recorded significantly lower levels of psychological capital and social support and significantly higher levels of psychological distress compared to normative scores. Analysis suggests that low SES, and mental health issues are associated with lower perceived social support, lower psychological capital scores and higher perceived stress levels. 
Discussion: Findings suggest the potentially utility of psychological capital as a measure of psychological resources contributing to the resilience of vulnerable homeless individuals.
What is known: I. Homelessness is a social problem which affects a wide range of individuals across ethnicity, sex, and age. II. Homeless individuals are vulnerable to physical and mental health problems. III. Homeless people are deprived of economic, social, psychological, and political power. 
What this paper adds: a. Housing is a public health issue and needs to be addressed as such. b. Psychological Capital can mediate the impact of homelessness on physical and mental health. c. Most homeless individuals are fundamentally resilient but need to be empowered.

Keywords

mental health, illness, psychological, homeless population

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