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Written by Heather Morley, Executive Director

At Inn from the Cold we understand that family homelessness can be an especially difficult and emotional experience for parents and children. We see it every day in the families who call us for help and who walk through the front door to our shelter. The stress and uncertainty of not having a stable place to call home can have a profound impact on mental health and well-being.

That’s why we strive to create a welcoming and safe environment for families experiencing homelessness, where they can find supports, connections and programs they need to get back on their feet.

It’s important to remember that mental health challenges can affect anyone, regardless of their circumstances. By working together as a community to support those who are struggling, we can help break down the stigmas that prevent people from seeking the help they need.

At Inn from the Cold, we believe that every individual and family deserves to have a safe and secure home, as well as access to the resources and support they need to maintain their mental health and well-being.

Experiencing homelessness can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health, exacerbating pre-existing mental health conditions and leading to anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness, and substance use. For children the experience of homelessness can impact their emotional, cognitive, social and academic development.  Having no place to call home can be a challenging and stressful experience, especially for those who may already be struggling with their mental health. Therefore, it is important to create a supportive and non-threatening environment for people experiencing homelessness, where their basic needs, such as food and shelter, are addressed, and accessible, trauma-informed care is provided.

According to the 2019 Alberta Health Services Performance Review, mental health services have seen a significant 3-year growth rate of 7.95%, surpassing other primary care services. The increase in demand for mental health services among adults in Alberta is concerning, as it indicates a lack of preventative measures for children, youth, and adolescents in previous generations.

That’s why our programs focus on supporting the mental, social, and physical wellbeing of families and their children to break the cycle of homelessness. That’s why we collaborate with sector partners to ensure families receive the right service at the right time. We believe in investing in families with the appropriate programs and supports to lift the most vulnerable out of poverty and housing instability. By prioritizing the wellness of children, youth, and families, we can help prevent and address the root causes of family homelessness.

Community-based mental health services play a critical role in supporting families experiencing homelessness with mental health challenges. Providing safe and stable housing, along with connections and access to supportive services, can help families begin to stabilize their mental health and work towards recovery.

At Inn from the Cold we know it is essential to approach the issue of homelessness and mental health with compassion, empathy and understanding. By recognizing the challenges that individuals face and providing support, we can help families overcome the barriers that prevent them from achieving stability and well-being. When families thrive, communities thrive.