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Mothers experiencing homelessness: mental health, support and social care needs

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Abstract

Little is known about the experiences of mothers who become homeless. The numbers of women with children in this situation are growing, most becoming homeless following domestic or neighbour abuse, or the breakdown of family relationships. This qualitative study aimed to describe mothers’ experiences of homelessness in relation to their mental health, support and social care needs. Twenty-eight homeless women with dependent children residing in hostels were interviewed. The experience of homelessness was stressful, but viewed as a respite for many of the participants because they had experienced violence and harassment prior to their stay in the hostels. Many described poor mental health, which they related to the conditions in hostels and traumas that they had experienced before becoming homeless. Their experiences and perceptions of the services available were mixed. Some valued the support offered by staff and other residents, but the majority felt that there was a lack of resources to address their needs. Many women had difficulty coping with homelessness, and several said that support from other homeless women was an important source of help. Services need to work together to meet the multiple health, social, psychological and housing needs of these women.
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Keywords: coping; homelessness; mental health; mothers; parenting; services

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Nottingham Medical School, Nottingham and 2: University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Publication date: 2007-05-01

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