Young people with a serious mental illness are more likely to spend short periods away from home, prompting calls for early intervention before they become homeless.
Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report found mental illness and poor family relationships increased the risk of homelessness for young people, while homelessness and poor family functioning also increased the risk of serious mental illness.
Young people with a probable serious mental illness were 3.5 times more likely than their peers to have spent time away from home because they felt they could not go back, the report found.
Nearly 60 per cent of people with a probable serious mental illness rated their family function as poor.
The report found homelessness among young people often begins with ‘couch surfing’ at the homes of family or friends, before moving to a youth refuge or living in government housing.
It’s a phenomena Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans calls “the hidden homeless.”
"We know that adolescents who are couch surfing – that is, when they stay for short periods of time on couches, floors or in other insecure housing situations with relatives or friends – are at a greater risk of homelessness later in life," she said.
The charity is calling on all levels of government to commit to halving youth homelessness by 2020.
"We urgently need more targeted and holistic early intervention services so we can adequately address the issues faced by young people before they become homeless, as well as increased investment in social and affordable housing and supported accommodation models for young people."
Ms Yeomans said it was important to raise awareness about homelessness.
“We need to make sure we’re funding the programs that are going to help young people avoid entrenched levels of homelessness into the future," she said.
4 August 2017