1. Connect them to a clinic: A consistent, helpful doctor can recognize patterns in a youth’s health that hospital emergency rooms aren’t often able to see.
2. Help them understand their own health: If a youth isn’t in the habit of going to the doctor, they may not know the basics about their body or its condition. This knowledge is empowering.
3. Give them trauma-informed care: When it comes to mental health, homeless youth have experienced and witnessed incredible hardships. Help them keep their anger in context, and appreciate it as a normal, healthy response that doesn’t define them.
4. Teach them to trust professionals: Very often homeless youth don’t go to the doctor because they’ve learned to mistrust authority figures. Routine, reliable health care workers can help them reestablish a sense of trust.
5. Help them overcome transportation issues: Even if you can’t supply a one-stop-shop for health care service, bringing health professionals into your program as often as possible can help youth solve the problem of finding a ride to multiple offices.
6. Cover the basics: Homeless youth need STD testing, pregnancy testing, routine check-ups and treatment for minor cuts and problems. If you can provide these—and can recommend a clinic that treats more complicated issues—then you’ve already met their biggest health care needs.