NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale School of Public Health has received a $3.9 million grant to study the efficacy of a mental health intervention they developed for gay and bisexual men, the school announced.
It targets young gay and bisexual men and helps them cope with stigma-related stress to reduce their risk of mental-health disorders, including alcohol and drug abuse and HIV-risk behaviors. The National Institute of Mental Health awarded the grant.
The research team has already conducted a multi-year pilot study.
They consulted community health providers and at-risk gay and bisexual men to create an intervention that teaches skills to counteract the harmful effects of stigma-related stress. Sixty-three young men received the intervention, and the findings indicate that participants experienced improved mental and sexual health. With the new grant, researchers are planning to launch a larger trial with a higher level of control, school officials said.
“If this next stage of testing works as we expect it to, we will have strong evidence about how to effectively treat gay and bisexual men’s mental health problems and their associations with HIV risk,” said John Pachankis, Ph.D., associate professor and the study’s principal investigator.
The 10-session intervention designed by Pachankis and his group includes cognitive-behavioral techniques that teach men skills to counteract the effects of stigma-related stress. For example, men who internalize negative lessons about themselves might avoid romantic connections with other men, Yale officials said.
“We helped these men learn to recognize the origin of these behaviors, tolerate strong emotions, and engage in more personally meaningful and rewarding behavior,” Pachankis said.