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Mental health and related service use by sex workers in rural and remote Australia: 'there's a lot of stigma in society'


Reynish, TD and Hoang, H and Bridgman, H and Easpaig, BNG, Mental health and related service use by sex workers in rural and remote Australia: 'there's a lot of stigma in society', Culture, Health and Sexuality pp. 1-16. ISSN 1369-1058 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/13691058.2021.1985616


Sex workers experience risk and protective factors that affect their psychological well-being, yet little is known about sex workers' mental health and their experiences with related services in rural and remote Tasmania, Australia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six current or former sex workers with pre-existing mental health problems, and thematic analysis was used to identify their experiences with mental health and related care. Generally, sex work does not contribute to participants' mental health concerns; rather, social exclusion and systemic issues cause psychological harm. Ineffective mental health professionals and the lack of tailored or culturally competent support serve as barriers to care. Significantly, widespread stigma was both a risk factor to participants' mental health and a barrier to help seeking and resulted in isolation and identity concealment. Resilience, self-awareness and social inclusion reduce the psychological impact of exogenous oppression and encourage help seeking. The decriminalisation of sex work could improve sex worker mental health and reduce stigma by normalising sex work.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mental health, sex worker, Tasmania, barriers, social inclusion/exclusion, stigma
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Dental health
UTAS Author:Reynish, TD (Ms Tamara Reynish)
UTAS Author:Hoang, H (Dr Ha Hoang)
UTAS Author:Bridgman, H (Dr Heather Bridgman)
ID Code:147367
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2021-10-28
Last Modified:2021-11-15

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