Learning how to maintain good mental health, or ‘wellbeing’ is an important part of the work we do with the young people in our services and something young people have told us they really value. In fact, the proportion of young people at Depaul UK reporting mental health difficulty without a diagnosis has increased from 53% in 2019 to 60% and those with a diagnosis has increased from 29% to 37% in 2022.

These figures are not surprising. Many of the young people we work with have experienced trauma and insecurity before they experienced homelessness, and as part of losing their home and having nowhere safe to live. Many will have been let down too many times by those they love or trust.  

In the latest edition of our client newsletter, which is aimed at and co-produced by young people experiencing homelessness, wellbeing was very much the hot topic they wanted to talk about and share their experiences of. Here we’ve put together some of the highlights from the newsletter and shared some of the practical tips our young people have found helpful in managing their own wellbeing. 


What is wellbeing

To have good wellbeing, the newsletter said, you must feel good and function well, have the physical, emotional and psychological resources to cope with life’s challenges; have a strong social network, enough money to get by and a safe place to live.  


What affects wellbeing 

Young people told us they get stressed when life becomes unpredictable, they aren’t being listened to and people they rely on break their promises; or when they have family or financial problems, or simply don’t feel happy with themselves. They identified signs of poor wellbeing, which included drinking, smoking and eating more, fidgeting, spending all their time alone, having difficulty sleeping, and using their phone too much before bed.  


What young people do to maintain good wellbeing  

Young people in our services also shared how they manage their wellbeing when times get tough. They told us that the following activities helped: recording their thoughts on paper, writing a to-do-list, reaching out to others when they feel lonely, creating a self-care routine and a comfortable environment, going out in nature or taking exercise, giving their day structure, and finding solace in music or art.  

One young person, originally from the Tuareg tribe in Mali, west Africa, told us he likes learning and talking about his nomadic culture: “At college, sometimes we talk about our home countries and some students said they find things I have explained about Mali and Tuareg very interesting. I feel great when I can tell them more things about it and learn something new from them too.” 

Another said: “I find cooking and baking helpful. I come from a traveller community and preparing food was a big part of our family life. I love making egg tarts, apple pies and homemade raspberry jam. I also love listening to music. I would suggest it to everyone who is feeling low.” 


How a wellness app might help  

The client newsletter also recommended a useful tool called the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). The online tool helps users to identify how they behave when they’re not feeling well and encourages them to create a list of early warning signs to help notice when things are starting to fall apart. Users will also identify what they want others to do when this happens, and the things they can do themselves to feel better. Encouraging young people to think about these things when they’re feeling good, can help them recognise and have a plan of action when they’re not.  


How Depaul UK is supporting wellbeing  

We believe that having good mental health and wellbeing is an essential part of a young person’s journey out of homelessness. That’s why we help young people to identify their own needs and create an action plan so they can be more resilient in the future. It’s also why we provide every young person with a progression coach or access to counselling and mediation if they want and need it. At Depaul UK, we know that giving young people the tools to respond to difficult situations, will give them a better chance for a brighter future.