The Mental Health of Male Sexual Minority Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya: A Qualitative Assessment


  • Lourence Misedah-Robinson The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health
  • Vanessa Schick The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health
  • Michael W. Ross University of Minnesota Medical School
  • Solomon Wambua Key Population Consortium of Kenya [KP Consortium]



MSM asylum seekers, MSM refugees, mental health


Very little information exists about the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees who are men who have sex with men (MSM). Therefore, this study explores the psychological distress of MSM asylum seekers and refugees in the Nairobi metropolitan area. We collected data using in-depth interviews transcribed verbatim, coded using NVivo 12 Plus, and analyzed using the six-step thematic analysis framework. Four major themes emerged from the study: psychological distress, traumatic stress symptoms, mental health care access, and coping strategies. Although we did not use any diagnoses, the results indicate that MSM asylum seekers and refugees share mental health problems with other refugees. However, MSM have specific needs that derive from their persecution based on their sexual minority status. The results confirm extant findings, as seen in the discussion, and encourage more research. Further research will inform collaborative, culturally sensitive, and targeted interventions that decrease adverse mental health outcomes for MSM asylum seekers and refugees in the Nairobi metropolitan area.


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Author Biographies

Lourence Misedah-Robinson, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health

Lourence Misedah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. He can be reached at

Vanessa Schick, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health

Vanessa Schick, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. She can be reached at

Michael W. Ross, University of Minnesota Medical School

Michael W. Ross is a Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. He can be reached at

Solomon Wambua, Key Population Consortium of Kenya [KP Consortium]

Solomon is a National Coordinator at the Key Population Consortium of Kenya [KP Consortium]. They can be reached at


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How to Cite

Misedah-Robinson, L., Schick, V., Ross, M. W., & Wambua, S. (2022). The Mental Health of Male Sexual Minority Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya: A Qualitative Assessment. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 38(2), 1–21.

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