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Barriers and enablers to sex workers’ uptake of mental healthcare: a systematic literature review

Reynish, T ORCID: 0000-0003-4490-9729, Hoang, Ha ORCID: 0000-0001-5116-9947, Bridgman, H ORCID: 0000-0002-1232-952X and Easpaig, BNG 2020 , 'Barriers and enablers to sex workers’ uptake of mental healthcare: a systematic literature review' , Sexuality Research and Social Policy , doi: 10.1007/s13178-020-00448-8.

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Introduction: Sex workers face many barriers to accessing the inalienable human right of mental health. The aim of this reviewwas to synthesize the evidence on the barriers to mental healthcare for sex workers and the factors that facilitate uptake.Methods: A search conducted in 2018 of peer-reviewed and gray literature produced between 2008 and 2018 in OECD countriesresulted in 32 documents eligible for inclusion.Results: The literature revealed that the barriers of stigma, discrimination, violence, pathologization, and criminalization exacerbate the psychological distress of sex workers while impeding uptake of mental healthcare. Personal resilience, protective factors,agency, and social inclusion offset these barriers.Conclusions: Despite the risk of pervasive mental illness among sex workers due to, primarily, external factors, few studiespresent comprehensive examinations of sex workers’ mental health and fewer still explore sex workers with gender identitiesand sexual orientations that are not cisgender, heterosexual, or female.Policy Implications: Although timely, equitable treatment of sex workers in mental healthcare is currently atypical, the findings ofthis review suggest that inclusive, respectful psychological care is possible. Future research on holistic approaches to the mentalhealth of sex workers could support the creation of much-needed, inclusive services and policies that improve sex workers’quality of life.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Reynish, T and Hoang, Ha and Bridgman, H and Easpaig, BNG
Keywords: mental health services, sex work, enablers, barriers,
Journal or Publication Title: Sexuality Research and Social Policy
Publisher: Springer New York LLC
ISSN: 1868-9884
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s13178-020-00448-8
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