Depression, harassment, relationship problems, loneliness, and social isolation, were among the few pressing mental health concerns that were highlighted during interactions with members from men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and transgender community. The existing services for MSM and transgender people, firstly, are decimal and not reaching a vast majority of community members, and secondly, they seldom serve their mental health needs optimally.
So what do the MSM and transgender people do when confronted with mental health challenges? "We are referred to our friends or community people. We rarely go to official psychologist or psychiatrist" was the response from one of the members of the transgender communities. HIV and STI counselling is more concerned with sexual and reproductive health, and doesn’t adequately address mental health concerns beyond HIV prevention and to some extent care and support issues. There were strong remarks made on the inadequate counselling on HIV treatment, care and support.
"When there is adequate self-esteem and self-respect, there is a natural desire to be healthy, to take care of one self, to engage in safer sexual practice. So none of what we do will be successful if we ignore mental health issues" remarked another member.
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