Collective Resilience as a Protective Factor for the Mental Health and Well-Being of HIV-Positive Gay Men

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Rates of mental health problems are disproportionately high among HIV-positive gay men. Identifying forms of resilience that help protect mental health is therefore important in understanding ways to reduce these rates. This study examined whether the experience of high collective resilience, that is, participating in a group or community that is perceived to be highly resilient, is linked to better mental health outcomes among HIV-positive gay men. A community-based sample of 357 HIV-positive Australian gay men completed an online survey. This included the Fletcher-Lyons Collective Resilience Scale, which measured perceived collective resilience in a group that men felt was most important to them. Collective resilience was strongly linked to mental health and well-being. Men who reported belonging to a highly resilient group were significantly less likely to experience depression, anxiety, stress, and internalized HIV-related stigma than men who belonged to a less resilient group. They were also more likely to experience positive mental health, life satisfaction, and individual resilience, and gave higher ratings of their overall general health. Those who were unemployed were less likely to report high collective resilience. Belonging to a resilient group or community appears to be a protective factor for the mental health of HIV-positive gay men, which potentially offers new insights into understanding and identifying ways of supporting and improving the lives of this population.

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