Coping and resilience among ethnoracial individuals experiencing homelessness and mental illness – 2018

The multiple challenges that ethnoracial homeless individuals experiencing mental illness face are well documented. However, little is known about how this homeless subpopulation copes with the compounding stressors of racial discrimination, homelessness and mental illness.

This study is an in-depth investigation of the personal perceived strengths, attitudes and coping behaviors of homeless adults of diverse ethnoracial backgrounds experiencing homelessness and mental illness in Toronto, Canada.

Using qualitative methods, 36 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted to capture the perspectives of ethnoracial homeless participants with mental illness on coping and resilience. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Similar to prior findings in the general homeless population, study participants recognized personal strengths and attitudes as great sources of coping and resilience, describing hope and optimism, self-esteem and confidence, insight into their challenges and spirituality as instrumental to overcoming current challenges. In addition, participants described several coping strategies, including seeking support from family, friends and professionals; socializing with peers; engaging in meaningful activities; distancing from overwhelming challenges; and finding an anchor.

Findings suggest that homeless adults with mental illness from ethnoracial groups use similar coping strategies and sources of resilience with the general homeless population and highlight the need for existing services to foster hope, recognize and support individual coping strategies and sources of resilience of homeless individuals experiencing complex challenges.

Sayani Paul, Simon Corneau, Tanya Boozary, Vicky Stergiopoulos
International Journal of Social Psychiatry, January 1, 2018