Mental health impact on homeless youth to be focus of event in York Region


TORONTO, March 7, 2013 – Researchers, social service providers and government representatives will meet in Aurora on Friday, March 8, to hear about the relationship between homelessness and mental health challenges, and how to address the issue in York Region and elsewhere in Canada.

Western University Professor Cheryl Forchuk, who is also the assistant director at Lawson Health Research Institute and group leader for its Mental Health/Health Outcomes Research division, will offer the keynote speech during the second of seven sessions in a Learning Series focused on developing an integrated response to youth homelessness. The Learning Series is the result of a partnership between the United Way York Region and York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Eva’s National Initiatives Program, and the Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN), based at York University.

“Issues related to homelessness, youth, and mental illness can all lead to social exclusion and isolation. However, this exclusion is not related to the issues themselves, but rather society's response to them," says Forchuk. "If we hope to create positive change, we need to understand society’s responses and our own responses to these complex issues.”

Forchuk, who has published on various topics including denial, therapeutic relationships, homelessness, housing and mental health, is currently researching the community’s role in providing housing for those living with psychiatric conditions and poverty, and their social inclusion. Her research explores the challenges and solutions to poverty, homelessness in youth, housing issues related to mental health, and the use of smart technology in mental health.

York University Professor Stephen Gaetz, director of CHRN, is leading the Learning Series project (from February to June), featuring seven speakers who have developed creative and effective responses to youth homelessness. At a United Way−York U conference in November, leaders in the field concluded that addressing youth homelessness would require a shift from an emergency response model to one that focuses on preventing youth homelessness and rapidly rehousing youths who become homeless, he said.

 WHAT: Youth Homelessness Learning Series, session 2:
Addressing homelessness and mental health challenges
Professor Cheryl Forchuk, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University

WHERE: Aurora Public Library, 15145 Yonge Street, Aurora

WHEN:  Friday, March 8, 2013, 9-11am

York University is helping to shape the global thinkers and thinking that will define tomorrow. York’s unwavering commitment to excellence reflects a rich diversity of perspectives and a strong sense of social responsibility that sets us apart. A York U degree empowers graduates to thrive in the world and achieve their life goals through a rigorous academic foundation balanced by real-world experiential education. As a globally recognized research centre, York is fully engaged in the critical discussions that lead to innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global social challenges. York’s 11 faculties and 28 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 288 leading universities worldwide. York's community is strong − 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 250,000 alumni.

United Way York Region serves nine municipalities: Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Whitchurch-Stouffville. In addition to its traditional role of supporting agencies to meet urgent needs, United Way is working to tackle the root causes of social issues. To help strengthen York Region’s quality of life, United Way is uniting people and resources on three priorities: moving people from poverty to possibility, helping kids be all they can be, and building healthy people and strong communities.

Media Contacts:
Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 22094,

Adriana Suppa, Director, Communications, United Way York Region, 905 474 9974 ext. 358