Homeless youth frequently meet diagnosis criteria for depressive and/or substance use disorder(s). Although prior research has established that both social connectedness and self-efficacy buffer vulnerable youth’s adverse health outcomes, few studies have compared the potential of these protective factors on homeless youth’s mental well-being. The current study analyzes comparative effects of social connectedness and self-efficacy on meeting criteria for major depressive disorder, substance use disorder, and the co-occurrence of both disorders among a sample of 601 service-seeking homeless youth in Austin, Denver, and Los Angeles. Hierarchical logistic regressions indicate that while both social connectedness and self-efficacy constructs are valuable protective factors, social connectedness may offer greater utility, particularly in buffering against more complex mental health outcomes, such as the co-occurrence of depressive and substance use disorders. Accordingly, resource-strapped homeless youth service providers and researchers may benefit from tailoring mental health intervention strategies to further emphasize social connectedness in future efforts.
Stephanie Begun, Kimberly A. Bender, Samantha M. Brown, Anamika Barman-Adhikari, Kristin Ferguson
Youth & Society, Vol 50, Issue 7, 2018