The psychological impact of childhood homelessness—a literature review

Abstract

In August 2019, 3848 children in Ireland were faced with emergency homelessness [1]. In recent years, lack of affordable housing, unemployment and shortage of rental properties have been the primary driving factors for the potentially devastating impact of familial homelessness in our society [1]. Our aim was to evaluate current knowledge on the psychological impact of homelessness in children. Using the PRISMA model, we performed a review of the currently available literature on the psychological impact of homelessness on children. This concept was explored under two different categories—‘transgenerational’ and ‘new-onset homelessness’. Hidden homelessness was also explored. Our literature review revealed several psychological morbidities which were unique to children. This includes developmental and learning delays, behavioural difficulties and increased levels of anxiety and depression [66, 77, 40, 81, 42]. This has been demonstrated by poorer performance in school testing and increased levels of aggression. Anxiety in children within this cohort has been shown to peak at time of dispersion from their stable home environment [67]. Our study highlights violence, aggression and poor academic learning outcomes to be just some of the key findings in our review of homelessness in childhood, worldwide. Unfortunately, there has been minimum research to date on paediatric homelessness within the context of the Irish population. We anticipate this review to be the first chapter in a multipart series investigation to evaluate the psychological morbidity of paediatric homelessness within the Irish Society.

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D’Sa, S., Foley, D., Hannon, J. et al. The psychological impact of childhood homelessness—a literature review. Ir J Med Sci 190, 411–417 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-020-02256-w

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Keywords

  • Childhood homelessness
  • Familial homelessness
  • Homeless in Ireland
  • Psychological impact