A Study of Mental Health Status of Men Who Have Sex with Men in Ahmedabad City

Article excerpt

Byline: Arpit. Prajapati, Sonal. Parikh, D. Bala

Background: Men who have sex with men (MSM), a unique group of people, feel, and believe they will face hardships in society once their identity is disclosed, but this does not deter them from dressing and behaving like the opposite sex in public life or fighting for their rights. Objectives: To study the mental health status of MSM and their determinants. Materials and Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among 410 MSM in the drop in centers of non-governmental organization working for MSM in Ahmedabad city through purposive sampling. Results : Prevalence of psychiatric morbidity was 52.9%. The mean score obtained in anxiety/insomnia subscale (5.4 [+ or -] 4.2) and severe depression (5.4 [+ or -] 4.6) was higher than other two subscale somatic symptoms (4.0 [+ or -] 3.2) and social dysfunction symptoms (4.6 [+ or -] 3.8). Among General Health Questionnaire 28 questions, more MSM had a "more than usual feeling" that they are "getting difficulty in staying asleep once you are off," "lost much sleep over worry," "been getting edgy and bad tempered," "felt constantly under strain," "been feeling nervous and strung-up all time." Prevalence of psychiatric morbidity is more in never married MSM and also in less educated MSM. MSM with sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms suffer from psychiatric illness more than MSM who didn't have STI symptoms. Conclusion: Various determinants like partner characteristic, presence of STI symptoms, marital status, and living arrangement affect the mental health of MSM.

Introduction

Men who have sex with men (MSM) is the term used to denote all men who have sex with other men as a matter of preference or practice, regardless of their sexual identity or sexual orientation and irrespective of whether they also have sex with women or not. MSM is a very important subgroup of targeted intervention (TI) for National AIDS Control Program (NACP) Phase III.

Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is not a mental illness. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face unique risks to their mental health. Many face discrimination from coworkers, family members and peers, as well as society at large. Recent studies indicate that experiencing social discrimination is a strong predictor of mental health issues. [sup][1]

Sexual orientation represents an important, but relatively understudied, individual characteristic shaping risk for psychiatric morbidity. [sup][2] No wonder, the inner conflicts in a MSM grows day-by-day and it takes a toll on their social life and hurts their mind. As a result, psychiatric morbidities such as depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and even suicidal tendencies are common in this group. [sup][3] Very few studies have been conducted to evaluate mental health status in MSM and their risk factors for psychiatric morbidity.

The present study was conducted in the drop in centers (DICs) in Ahmedabad city with the help of non-governmental organization (NGO), which is working for MSM. The present study attempts to find determinants of mental health, but also to fill a crucial gap in available mental health information of MSM.

Objective

To study the mental health status of MSM and their determinants.

Materials and Methods

In the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) area, NACP is implemented by AIDS Control Society (ACS) in which NGO has taken responsibility for TI for MSM. Present study was conducted on registered MSM of Ahmedabad city after taking permission from AMCACS, CHUWAL GRAM VIKASH TRUST UNIT 1, 2 and SWAVLAMBI CHUWAL MANDAL UNIT, Ahmedabad. Through purposive sampling, 10% MSM (410 MSM) from each unit were selected out of total 4100 MSM who were coming in DIC of their respective unit to attend meetings. After taking informed consent interview of MSM was conducted personally through pretested, prestructured questionnaire during the study period with the help of counselor, out-reach workers and peer educators to get correct and reliable answer as they have good rapport with MSM. …