Abstract: The Psychological and Mental Health Impact of Blesser Slay Queen Relationships on Women and Their Families: A Scoping Review (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

292P The Psychological and Mental Health Impact of Blesser Slay Queen Relationships on Women and Their Families: A Scoping Review

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Anissa Chitwanga, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Background and Purpose: The booming trend in social class and materialistic lifestyles coupled with the increasingly high rates of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has birthed a new form of transactional sex termed the Blesser/Slay Queen relationships/phenomena. The blesser is usually an older man between the ages of 30 and 70, and the Slay Queen is a young woman ranging from the ages of 13 to at least 30 years old. This practice has left many girls and young women vulnerable to sexual exploitation, violence and other consequences.

While the phenomenon is fairly new and there isn’t a lot of literature on it, the small body of literature available has focused on the prevalence of HIV among blessers and slay queens and how the practice has consequently amplified the spread of HIV/AIDS. Little to no attention has been given to the psychological and mental health consequences and trajectories of the phenomena. This study fills this gap and offers a scoping review of literature from the past ten years, and it addresses the psychological and mental health consequences of the girls involved in the blesser slay queen relationships and their families.

Methods: The review focused on studies that explore the psychological effects or mental health consequences of Blesser/Slay Queen relationships in Sub-Saharan Africa. The following Databases were searched to identify peer-reviewed articles in this specific area; Google Scholar, African Diaspora 1860-present, African Studies Center database (Leiden), Gender; Identity and social change, PubMed, and PROQUEST.

The initial screening yielded 48 articles which were later reduced to 8 after careful screening. Three were about Men who have sex with men or LGBTQ (n=3), two were about reproductive health and female genital mutilation (FGM) (n=2) and 43 were about varying topics in Africa including politics and culture (n=43).

Findings: A careful analysis of the literature revealed a rigorous focus on HIV/AIDS, violence, and oppression as the underlying outcomes of the relationships. One article expressed the phenomena as a medium for women to reclaim their girl power to get the things that gender inequality has deprived them of. Only one article talked about mental health intervention particularly through the church to help young women involved in the relationships.

Conclusion and Implication: There is clearly a gap in understanding the mental health outcomes of blesser Slay queen relationships, and possible interventions in policy and programs to cater for the need that is noticeably being overlooked. The constant focus on HIV/AIDS and cultural disregard for mental health in Africa seems to present a challenge in creating awareness and providing mental health services to vulnerable individuals such as these young girls. This review also highlights the need for further research on the mental health outcomes of the relationships which will help in finding the best interventions for social workers to better assist this population.