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Study looking at consequences of COVID-19 on 2SGBQM men in Manitoba

October 27, 2020 — 

This month, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced an investment of more than $10.2M in COVID-19 mental health and substance use service needs and delivery research as part of a larger Government of Canada approach to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding will support 55 research teams across the country that will tackle the specific mental health and substance use crisis response needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the strategies to contain and mitigate its impact.

One of the teams receiving funding is led by Dr. Rusty Souleymanov in the Faculty of Social Work, which will be receiving $175,000 to study mental health and substance use impacts of COVID-19 on sexual and gender minority men in Manitoba.

Dr. Rusty Souleymanov

Dr. Rusty Souleymanov

Souleymanov says: “Very little is known about the consequences of socio-physical distancing in response to COVID-19 on the mental health and substance use behaviours of two-spirit, gay, bisexual, queer, and other men who have sex with men (2SGBQM), including cis- and transgender men.”

He adds: “Access to mental health and substance use services, as well as screening and referrals provided by health care professionals, is crucial to prevent and treat 2SGBQM’s health concerns. It is less clear to what extent Manitoba 2SGBQM’s mental health and substance use behaviours are affected by COVID-related consequences, or how this population’s access to mental health services and substance use/harm reduction programs across Manitoba is impacted by COVID-19.”

The research team will use an online survey to gather data on demographics, health and social disparities, mental health, and substance use behaviours, and the use of/access to mental health and substance use/addictions/harm reduction services and support programs. They will also conduct interviews to get a better understanding of the survey findings and implement a capacity training program called ‘Investigaytors’ to build young 2SGBQM leaders in Manitoba.

Souleymanov explains: “This project will inform mental health services and harm reduction interventions, and educational campaigns, as well as online/virtual healthcare and support program delivery for 2SGBQM in Manitoba.”

The funding for this research is provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF), the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (OMHLTC), and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF).

This investment is made possible through the COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Research Initiative, a collaboration between CIHR, Health Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction.

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