Bisexual People’s Experiences with Mental Health Services: A Qualitative Investigation
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.
KeywordsBisexual Mental health Barriers to care Service satisfaction
This research was supported by a Community Research Capacity Enhancement grant from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. L.E. Ross is supported as a New Investigator by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Ontario Women’s Health Council, Award NOW-84656. In addition, support to CAMH for salary of scientists and infrastructure has been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The authors would like to thank Anna Travers, Ayden Scheim, Loralee Gillis, and our participants for their essential contributions to this research.
- Bieschke, K. J., McClanahan, M., Tozer, E., Grzegorek, J. L., & Park, J. (2000). Programmatic research on the treatment of lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients: The past, the present, and the course for the future. In R. M. Perez, K. A. DeBord, & K. J. Bieschke (Eds.), Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients (pp. 309–336). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bijl, R. V., de Graaf, R., Ravelli, A., Smit, F., & Vollebergh, W. A. M. (2002). Gender and age-specific first incidence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the general population: Results from the Netherlands mental health survey and incidence study (NEMESIS). Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 37(8), 372–379.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Colaizzi, P. F. (1978). Psychological research as the phenomenologist views it. In R. Valle & M. King (Eds.), Existential phenomenological alternatives for psychology (pp. 48–71). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- DeLeon, P. H. (1998). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the legislative year 1997: Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council of Representatives, August 14 and 17, Chicago, Illinois; and June, August and December 1997 meetings of the Board of Directors. American Psychologist, 53, 882–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dobinson, C., Macdonnell, J., Hampson, E., Clipsham, J., & Chow, K. (2003). Improving the access and quality of public health services for bisexuals. Toronto, ON: Ontario Public Health Association.Google Scholar
- Hancock, K. A. (1995). Psychotherapy with lesbians and gay men. In A. R. D’Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities over the lifespan (pp. 398–432). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hardman, K. L. J. (1997). Social workers’ attitudes to lesbian clients. British Journal of Social Work, 27, 545–563.Google Scholar
- Lofland, J., & Lofland, L. H. (1995). Analyzing social settings (3rd ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
- Morris, M., & Muzychka, M. (2002). Participatory research and action: A guide to becoming a researcher for social change. Ottawa: CRIAW/ICREF.Google Scholar
- Neville, S., & Henrickson, M. (2006). Perceptions of lesbian, gay and bisexual people of primary healthcare services. Issues and Innovations in Nursing Practice: 55(4), 407–415.Google Scholar
- Page, E. H. (2004). Mental health services experiences of bisexual women and bisexual men: An empirical study. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press/The Haworth Press.Google Scholar
- Ross, L. E., Dobinson, C. & Eady, A. (2010). Perceived determinants of mental health for bisexual people: A qualitative examination. American Journal of Public Health. Published online January 14, e1–e7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.156307.