What triggers depressive symptoms among gay and bisexual men? A sequential mediation model of sexual minority-related stigma and self-criticism

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

3 Scopus Citations
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  • Along He
  • He Bu
  • Ankang Liao
  • Wenlong Mu


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097–1113
Number of pages17
Journal / PublicationBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Online published3 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


A growing number of studies has shown that gay and bisexual men are more likely to experience adverse mental health status than their heterosexual counterparts. Stigma-related stress and self-criticism are believed likely to exacerbate depressive symptoms among gay and bisexual men. This research used cross-sectional findings to illustrate the mediating role of internalized self-stigma and self-criticism in the association between perceived public stigma and depressive symptoms. A total of 317 Chinese gay and bisexual men (267 gays and 50 bisexuals with a mean age of 25.29) were invited to participate in this study from October to November 2021. Sociodemographic characteristics, perceived public stigma, internalized self-stigma, self-criticism and depressive symptoms were measured through self-reported online questionnaires. The results indicated that the association between perceived public stigma and depressive symptoms was sequentially mediated by internalized self-stigma and self-criticism. The findings indicated that public stigma, as a distal stressor, was perceived and internalized as self-stigma by gay and bisexual men. This self-stigma may pose a risk for depressive symptoms via self-criticism (a maladaptive consequence of their attempts to reduce cognitive dissonance). These results highlight the necessity of reducing sexual minority-related stigma and self-criticism to reduce depressive symptoms. Our findings appeal to society to further decrease prejudice and stigma, increase tolerance, and focus on the negative mental health status of gay and bisexual men.

Research Area(s)

  • depressive symptoms, gay and bisexual men, internalized self-stigma, multiple mediation model, perceived public stigma, self-criticism, INTERNALIZED STIGMA, COLLEGE-STUDENTS, CHINESE VERSION, HEALTH, STRESS, HOMOSEXUALITY, ATTITUDES, FORMS, HIV, METAANALYSIS

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