May 28, 2024

Mental Health Awareness Month: Breaking Stigma, Building Strength

31 319201 transparent pencil and paper png pencil and book

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a crucial time to reflect on the importance of mental well-being for everyone, including one of the most vulnerable populations: homeless parents with children. At Homestretch, our mission to empower lives through safe housing and comprehensive social services goes hand-in-hand with addressing the mental health challenges faced by many of the families we serve.

Homelessness is not just a crisis of housing but also a crisis of mental health. Parents experiencing homelessness often face extreme stress, anxiety, and depression, compounded by the trauma and daily struggle for survival. This stress significantly impacts their children, who may suffer from emotional and behavioral issues, developmental delays, and difficulties in school.

Katherine Marcal, Professor of Social Work at Rutgers University, asserts that “housing unaffordability has serious implications for mental health.” Additionally, children who experience homelessness are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders. These issues can create a cycle of instability and mental health challenges that are difficult to break without targeted support.

At Homestretch, we understand that addressing mental health is an integral part of helping families regain stability and build a better future. Our approach is holistic, recognizing that mental health cannot be treated in isolation from other aspects of life. Here’s how we support mental health for homeless parents and their children:

1.) Safe and Stable Housing: The first step to improving mental health is ensuring that families have a safe and stable place to live. Homelessness itself is a source of immense stress and trauma, so securing housing provides a critical foundation for mental well-being.

2.) Comprehensive Case Management: Our case managers work closely with families to create individualized plans that address their unique needs. This includes connecting them with mental health services, such as therapy and counseling, to help them process trauma and build coping strategies.

3.) Life Skills and Resilience Training: We offer programs that teach parents vital life skills, such as financial literacy, job readiness, and parenting skills. These programs empower parents to build a stable future for their families and improve their mental resilience.

The impact of our work can be seen in the stories of the families we serve. Take Maria*, for example, a single mother who came to Homestretch after fleeing domestic violence. Maria struggled with severe anxiety and depression, compounded by the trauma of her experiences. Through our program, she received counseling, stable housing, and support in finding employment. Today, Maria is not only surviving but thriving, working as an advocate for other victims of domestic violence and providing a stable home for her children.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, we invite you to join Homestretch in supporting homeless parents and their children. By raising awareness, volunteering your time, or making a donation, you can help us provide the comprehensive support these families need to overcome their challenges and build a better future.

For more information on how you can get involved, visit our website today.

Barfonce Baldwin

Executive Director

If you or someone you know is in crisis, dial 1-800-662-HELP or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 for a free, confidential, 24-hour-a-day information service available in English and Spanish.