Addressing minority stress and mental health among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Men who have sex with men (MSM) in China experience elevated risks of mental health issues in comparison to the general population in China, which contribute to vulnerability to HIV/STI risks and can comprise the effectiveness of HIV prevention efforts. A conceptual framework for understanding this mental health disparity is minority stress theory, which posits that experiences of external prejudice events (i.e., distal stressors) and internal stress processes such as internalized homophobia and concealment (i.e., proximal stressors) contribute to sexual minorities’ elevated risk of psychological distress. To deepen the understanding of mental health among Chinese MSM and explore the potential utility of minority stress theory in this population, this paper synthesizes research evidence regarding prevalent mental health issues as well as how minority stress may be linked to psychological health in Chinese MSM. RECENT FINDINGS: Results indicate that Chinese MSM experience a high prevalence of several mental health issues including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors, and alcohol dependence. This review further reveals minority stress to be an important determinant of psychological distress among Chinese MSM, though evidence is mixed regarding the relationship between proximal minority stress and psychological health. Nonetheless, there is a lack of mental health services and interventions focusing on MSM in China. Culturally relevant, competent, and LGBT-affirmative mental health interventions are needed for Chinese MSM. To guide future intervention research, we provide considerations for reducing minority stress and promoting psychological health among Chinese MSM


Sun S, Pachankis JE, Li X, Operario D




  • Determinants of Health
    • Social support
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • Men who have sex with men
  • Substance Use
    • Alcohol
    • Nonmedicinal drugs
  • Mental Health
    • Depression
    • Other


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