Youngsters who are mentally ill or who have behavioural problems are being forced into a life on the streets because their families cannot cope with them.

Figures released today reveal that one in 10 of Britain's young homeless lives rough as a consequence of being diagnosed with conditions such as schizophrenia, clinical depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

An investigation carried out by the Mental Health Foundation and Centrepoint, the charity for the homeless, has found that young people are "falling between the cracks" in services and face a lifetime of despair unless urgent action is taken.

They are calling on ministers to put more resources into targeting overburdened families, where children are at risk of becoming homeless, at an earlier stage and to provide more protection for those on the streets who are mentally ill. Up to 52,000 young people become homeless every year.

Iain Ryrie, of the Mental Health Foundation, said young people who had chaotic family backgrounds as well as mental health problems faced a "double whammy". He added: "There is a loosening of family ties in society, and this is one consequence of that."

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