Sociodemographic Factors Contribute to Mental Health Disparities and Access to Services Among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men in New York City

Published: January 23, 2013


Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) may be at increased risk for mental health
problems including depression, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and suicidality. The overriding
goal of the current investigation was to examine mental health and mental health services in a
diverse sample of YMSM. We analyzed cross-sectional data from a cohort study of 598 YMSM,
including sociodemographics, mental health, and mental health care. We then tested for bivariate
associations, and used multivariable modeling to predict depression, PTSD, suicidality and
mental health care utilization. Lower socioeconomic status, unstable housing, and school nonenrollment
predicted depression and PTSD scores, while unstable housing and school nonenrollment
predicted recent suicide attempt(s). These recent suicide attempt(s) also predicted
current utilization of counseling or treatment, any history of psychiatric hospitalization, and any
history of psychiatric diagnosis. Black and API men were less likely to have ever accessed
mental health counseling or treatment. There were significant class-based differences with regard
to mental health outcomes, but not mental health services. Further, recent crises (i.e., suicide
attempt, hospitalization) were strong predictors of accessing mental health services. Improving
the mental health of YMSM requires addressing the underlying structural factors that influence
mental health outcomes and service access.

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