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The SWMH Project


What is the project about?

SWMH – Sex Work and Mental Health: Access to Mental Health Services for People who Sell Sex tries to understand sex workers’ mental health issues and needs as well as their experiences of mental health services and support available to them. 


When does it take place? 

The Sex Work and Mental Health  project will be carried out over a period of 2 years beginning September of 2016 and finishing in August of 2018. 


Who are the researchers?

The SWMH research team is composed of three academic researchers Dr. Giulia Garofalo Geymonat –  Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Prof. Nicola Mai – Kingston University, and Dr. PG Macioti– Kingston University as well as a majority peer research assistant team, the rest with extensive experience working directly with sex workers. The researcher assistants team is gender diverse and covers different language and migratory backgrounds to reach out to diverse sex workers.  For information about the academic research team and information about how to get in touch personally,  visit our Team page.


Who are the partners?


Where does it take place?

The project SWMH is funded by the Public Health Program of the Open Society Foundations and based at Hydra e.V. an association supporting sex workers in Germany. 

More details...


The project takes place in Germany, Britain, Italy and Sweden. SWMH hopes to improve the situation of sex workers worldwide. 


What is the SWMH approach?

What are the project aims?

SWMH aims to investigate sex workers' own understanding of their mental health needs and analyse the way they perceive and evaluate mental health services that are actually available to them across different socio-economic and legal contexts in Europe. It also investigates experiences and attitudes of the mental health practitioners who have had experience to support sex workers.

The project adopts a participatory methodology involving peer researchers. SWMH also acknowledges the multiple ways in which the health and well being of sex workers are affected by working conditions and legal regulatory frameworks on sex work and trafficking.


In each country, we interview 30 people who have experience of selling sex and have had mental health issues, to hear about their experiences of mental health provision, and about their views and perceptions about the relation between mental health and sex work. The majority of SWMH interviews are made by sex workers, the rest by people who have extensive experience of working directly with sex workers.


Our project also involves mental health providers - psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, nurses, social workers, sexologists - who have experience of supporting sex workers, by asking them about their practices and views. The SWMH survey has been designed through consultations and explorative interviews with 10 providers.

How do mental health providers participate?

How do sex workers participate?

Another question? Would you like to be involved?  
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