Bisexuality and Health
We examined the determinants of mental health, as perceived by bisexual people, in order to begin understanding the disparities in the rates of mental health problems reported by bisexual people versus those reported by heterosexual people, and, in many studies, gay men and lesbians. Our community-based participatory action research project comprised focus groups and semistructured interviews with 55 bisexual people across the province of Ontario, Canada. Perceived determinants of emotional well-being identified by participants could be classified as macrolevel (social structure), mesolevel (interpersonal), or microlevel (individual). In the context of this framework, monosexism and biphobia were perceived to exert a broad-reaching impact on participants' mental health. Like other marginalized populations, bisexual people perceive experiences of discrimination as important determinants of mental health problems. Additional research is required to examine the relationships between these perceived determinants of emotional well-being and specific mental health outcomes and to guide interventions, advocacy, and support for bisexual people.
Bisexual people experience minority stress and social isolation as a result of their marginalized sexual identities, and likely due to this stigmatization, previous research has identified high rates of psychological distress, anxiety, depression, suicidality, alcohol misuse, and self-harming behaviour among bisexual populations. It is therefore important that mental health service providers are able to provide culturally competent care to bisexual people. This study used focus groups and interviews with 55 bisexual participants across the province of Ontario, Canada, to investigate their experiences with mental health care. Results suggest that bisexual people have both positive and negative experiences with mental health service providers. Specific provider practices which contribute to the perception of positive and negative experiences with mental heath services are described, and the implications for clinical practice discussed.
Bisexuality is associated with worse mental health than both heterosexuality and homosexuality on a range of outcomes. Healthy relationships extend a protective effect on one's mental health, but little research has explored the issues faced by bisexuals in developing and maintaining intimate relationships. This study uses qualitative methodology to identify some of these issues. The results show that bisexual people in intimate relationships have unique experiences, due to the nature of bisexuality and the social context in which they experience their bisexual identities. Findings of this study have implications for the provision of mental health services to bisexual clients.
Resources for Researchers and Service Providers
- Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations. San Francisco Human Rights Commission
- References - Ten Things Bisexual People Should Discuss With Their Health Care Providers