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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Psychosocial Stressors Among Sheltered Homeless Children: Relationship to Behavior Problems and Depressive Symptoms
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Describes the level of lifetime exposure of school-aged sheltered homeless children to severe psychosocial stressors, and explores the relationship of such exposure, along with social support, to child behavior problems and depressive symptoms. It was hypothesized that for children exposed to similar stressors, social support from within the family reduces the likelihood of the development of mental health problems. Interviews were completed with 110 mother-headed families of 169 children (aged 6-12 yrs) using any of 18 homeless family shelters in a major metropolitan area. Psychosocial stressors were measured using the Lifetime Events Questionnaire. Maternal depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse were assessed using items from the full Diagnostic Interview Schedule. Maternal distress was measured with the Mental Health Inventory, child behavior problems with the Child Behavior Checklist, and child depression with the Children's Depression Inventory. It was found that although the majority of homeless children in the sample did not screen positive for psychopathology, their disturbing backgrounds are strong impetus for greater preventive interventions. (Authors)