Sex Work and Mental Health

Dr P.G. Macioti, Dr Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Prof. Nicola Mai
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The research project Sex Work and Mental Health: Access to Mental Health Services for People Who Sell Sex (SWMH) in Germany, Italy, Sweden and UK ran between March 2016 and December 2018.

Funded by the Public Health Fund of the Open Society Foundations SWMH was hosted by the sex worker organisation Hydra e.V. in Berlin, Germany. SWMH investigated sex workers' own understandings of their mental health needs and analysed the way they perceive and evaluate mental health services that are actually available to them, in countries with diverging legal approaches to sex work (legalisation in Germany, and different forms of direct and indirect criminalisation in Sweden, Italy and UK) and quite distinct models of welfare, culture and economics in relation to gender, sexuality and mental health.

The team consisted of three principal investigators (PIs): Dr Giulia Garofalo Geymonat, Dr P.G. Macioti and Prof. Nicola Mai and six research assistants (RAs): Yigit Aydinalp (UK), Aura Cadeddu (Italy), Ophelia Eglentyn (Sweden), Antonia Filipova (Germany), Liad Hussein Kantorowicz (Germany) and Olga Wennergren (Sweden). 

The research found that stigma and judgemental attitudes by practitioners were experienced as greatly influencing both sex workers’ mental health and their access to support. Sweden was the site where stigma was most felt as the primary cause of distress and where it bore the highest weight in preventing sex workers from accessing mental health support. The research report contains a full summary of the key findings and key recommendations.

You can download this resource above and further information on SWMH can be found on its website: