Mental Health & Substance Abuse

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

A significant number of the runaway, homeless and at-risk kids accessing services at Larkin Street are dually diagnosed with both mental health and substance abuse issues. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide attempts are all common mental health issues among homeless youth. While some youth on the streets suffered from mental health issues even before they left home; others develop emotional difficulties due to the daily threats of violence and exploitation at-risk youth experience living on the street. In addition, the combination of abusive or neglectful childhoods with the hopelessness of street life is often so toxic that many of Larkin Street’s youth turn to drug use to self-medicate or escape.

Once a youth’s basic survival needs are taken care of at Larkin Street’s Drop-In Center or Medical Clinic, program staff work with youth to achieve greater stability often with on-going counseling to help them move forward toward productive adulthood. Larkin Street offers an integrated mental health and substance abuse program for homeless youth. This approach is comprehensive, meeting an individual’s needs through a combination of mental health and substance abuse assessments, individual and group counseling, peer-based support, emergency mental health assistance, psychiatric evaluation, and referrals to community providers for longer term care. For homeless youth who also need treatment for substance abuse, Larkin Street offers assessments and intervention activities which encourage youth to engage in longer-term alcohol or drug abuse treatment.

Youth enter Larkin Street’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services from any of the other Larkin Street programs. Intensive case management is available to help youth navigate Larkin Street’s continuum of services, as well as San Francisco’s network of community providers ensuring that their mental health and substance abuse needs are met.

Larkin Street’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services give youth the crucial and necessary support that allows them to make peace with their painful pasts and look forward to happy futures.

Approximately 1,000 youth annually participate in mental health and/or substance abuse services at Larkin Street.

“Streets and speed have got me down. Now I’m going to rehab. It feels really good. I’m getting on track.” – Mike, 23