Advances in Mental Health, Vol 9, No 2 (2010)

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“Postcards From the Edge”: collaborating with young homeless people to develop targeted mental health messages and translate research into practice

Eimear Muir-Cochrane, Candice Oster, Andrew Drummond, Jennifer Fereday, Philip Darbyshire

Abstract


Mental health problems are a serious issue for homeless youth in Australia, as in many countries. Of further concern, these young people are unlikely to access much needed mental health services. Our previous research identified that homeless young people with mental health problems often felt stigmatised and discriminated against, especially when trying to access and engage with health and social services. A further finding was the difficulties homeless youth encountered when trying to manage regular psychiatric medications, especially when their lives lacked any form of stability and security. This paper discusses the translation of our research findings through the development of targeted health messages ‘for homeless youth by homeless youth’ using a series of workshops and consultations to facilitate the design of two series of postcards. The first series of postcards delivered powerful messages of the lived experiences of these young people expressed through their own art design and poignant words, and provided practical information to assist others to identify services that could assist them. The second series contained targeted messages for taking medication that were formulated by the study participants, and were grounded in their experiences of managing medication and the supports that enabled adherence to medication regimes. The postcards presented here are a real world example of research translation developed by homeless youth with mental health problems to reach out and help others in similar situations.






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