Bisexuals’ Experiences of Mental Health Services: Findings from the Who I Am Study

Abstract

Introduction

Despite bisexual people being found to have significantly poorer mental health than their gay, lesbian and heterosexual counterparts, research into their experiences of mental health service use remains sparse.

Methods

This paper presents findings from one of the largest studies of bisexual people to date (n = 2651) and examines their access to, and experiences with, mental health services. The Who I Am study surveyed adults living in Australia who reported bisexual identity, attraction and/or experience. Univariate analyses and chi square tests were conducted to quantify experiences of mental health service use and how this use is associated with gender and psychological distress.

Results

Results of an ordinal logistic regression analysis identify psychosocial predictors of disclosure/non-disclosure of bisexuality in the healthcare setting. Findings suggest that while bisexual people are highly engaged in mental health services, there are barriers to disclosure of their sexual orientation. In addition, the majority of respondents reported wanting more access to services specialising in working with bisexual people. Gender and psychological distress were found to be significantly associated with most service use variables.

Conclusions

Despite high levels of engagement in mental health services, barriers to care still exist for bisexual people.

Policy Implications

Findings presented in this paper provide new insights into the experiences of bisexual people accessing mental health services. These findings will inform future policy development which will direct improved services delivery in this field.

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Authors

Contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception, design, material preparation, data collection and analysis. All authors have read an approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Julia Taylor.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the La Trobe University Human Research Ethics Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study..

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Taylor, J., Power, J. & Smith, E. Bisexuals’ Experiences of Mental Health Services: Findings from the Who I Am Study. Sex Res Soc Policy 18, 27–38 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-020-00440-2

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Keywords

  • Bisexual mental health
  • Bisexual service access
  • Mental healthcare
  • LGBT research
  • Quantitative research