University of Western Ontario - Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Supervisor

Dr. Treena Orchard

Abstract

This thesis examines how structural and everyday factors impact the survival strategies and mental health issues of young homeless females in London, Ontario. Data were gathered through secondary analysis of information from a larger study of service utilization and mental illness among homeless youth in London, and fieldnotes were also collected. The most important findings pertain to how these youth navigate the complicated terrain of daily life and the multitude of social and health-related services that they struggle to obtain and desperately need. The participants’ experiences with healthcare, justice, and social support systems, reveal a multitude of intersecting structural barriers that make obtaining these much needed resources almost insurmountable, which often exacerbates their already vulnerable status as homeless females within the volatile context of street life. These data contribute important insights regarding the development of programs and policies that reflect and better account for these girls’ challenging living situations.