My first ever research site visit and research storytelling job in Vietnam was for a non-profit social organization in Saigon called, “The Centre for Promotion of Quality of Life” (or “LIFE Centre” for short). LIFE Centre’s mission is to promote and enhance the quality of life of vulnerable people and communities through research, training, and implementing cost-effective, sustainable and high impact programs. Much of their work and research is LGBTQ-targeted and gender inequality focused.

Very little is known about the mental health of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) in Vietnam, and even less is known about the development of culturally and contextually appropriate mental health treatment interventions for SGM. My research team’s pilot data from 5 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) suggests that all groups of SGM are burdened with poor mental health symptoms, and that potential life stressors and triggers that contribute to poor mental health vary by country/culture and by SGM identity. We’ve partnered with LIFE Centre to conduct research for this multi-country research study, titled “The Mental Health & Well-Being of Sexual and Gender Minorities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries”, aka “The SMILE Study.”

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