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Bisexual mental ill-health caused by biphobia and erasure, says study

Patrick Kelleher April 22, 2019
Bisexual mental ill-health caused by biphobia and erasure, says study

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Bisexual people can experience poor mental health due to biphobia, invisibility and erasure, according to a new study.

Researchers at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, surveyed more than 2,600 people for the Who I Am study to find out what causes poor mental health in the bisexual community.

Other studies have found that bisexual people are more likely than other groups—including gay men and lesbians—to experience mental ill-health.

Bi people can experience biphobia, both internalised and from others

The study, which was published in the Australian Journal Of General Practice, found a number of reasons that bi people experience greater mental ill-health than other groups.

58.5 percent of the bisexual respondents said they have high or very high psychological distress compared to 11.7 percent of the general population. 77.6 percent of those surveyed said they had considered suicide compared to 13.3 percent of the general population.

The survey revealed that a significant number of bi people experience biphobia—both internalised and from others. Respondents also reported feeling invisible and like their identities were being erased.

“The findings have given a unique insight into what challenging life experiences bisexual people are going through and how this is impacting their mental health.”

– Julia Taylor, research lead

“Experiencing ‘feeling your sexuality is bad or wrong’ increases the odds of having higher psychological distress,” the study noted. “These findings suggest that self-acceptance of one’s sexuality is an important aspect of mental wellbeing for bisexual people.”

The study also found that bi participants who were in a relationship with somebody of the opposite sex reported significantly worse mental health than those in same-sex relationships. They reported having better mental health if they were open about their sexuality with their partner and if they felt that their partner was supportive and understanding.

Meanwhile, bisexual women who were in same-sex relationships reported having better mental health than other groups.

Bisexual mental ill-health caused by biphobia and erasure, says study
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The study shows bisexual people need greater mental health support

Julia Taylor, who led the research project, said the study provides further evidence that bi people need greater mental health support.

“Attraction to more than one gender is very common among Australian adults and most health practitioners are unaware of the very poor mental health associated with this group,” Taylor said.

“While there’s been an increased focus on lesbian and gay health in recent years, a substantial gap in knowledge specifically on bisexual health needs still remains.

“Through the Who I Am study, we wanted to address this gap and provide GPs and other health professionals with more information on bisexual mental health.

“The findings have given a unique insight into what challenging life experiences bisexual people are going through and how this is impacting their mental health.”

The study has led to the formation of a new organisation called Bi+ Australia, the country’s first national organisation set up with the goal of improving mental health in the community.

More: Australia, Australia, biphobia, bisexual, bisexual mental health, mental health, study, who i am study

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