Risk and Resilience among Bisexual People: A Community-Based Study of Bisexual Mental Health

BISEXUAL MENTAL HEALTH PROJECT

I’m seeking 30 people who identify as bisexual, OR who are attracted to more than one sex/gender, to pilot test a survey, and provide feedback about the process and content. Testers should be 16 years of age or older, and not currently living in Ontario (we’re saving them for later).

If you think you’d like to test our study, please email me at margaret_robinson@camh.net If you’d like to know more about the project, please visit our website, http://lgbtqhealth.ca/projects/#RiskResilienceBisexual, or email me with your questions.

Margaret Robinson, PhD Project Coordinator

 

Projects:

Risk and Resilience among Bisexual People in Ontario: A Community-Based Study of Bisexual Mental Health

Bisexual people are often left out of research. When they are included, they are often lumped in with heterosexuals, gays, or lesbians rather than being studied as a distinct group. This makes it next to impossible to get statistics about bisexual health, to compare bisexual health with the heath of non-bisexuals, or to identify health issues that are unique to bisexual people. As a result, bisexuals often receive little benefit from the research in which they have participated in.

Those studies that do focus on bisexual people have found that bisexuals report poorer mental health and use mental health services more often than heterosexuals do. These studies also found that bisexuals report higher rates of anxiety, depression, poor self-rated mental health, suicidality and self-harm behaviour, than gay and lesbian people do. However, we have little understanding of why bisexuals experience these mental health disparities. Understanding the context of bisexual mental health, a pilot study conducted by our research team identified homophobia, biphobia, and monosexism as factors affecting the mental health of bisexuals in Ontario. Many reported a lack of in-group community support, and many felt marginalized in both the heterosexual community and the lesbian and gay community (4).

Our current project will survey 800 bisexual people from across Ontario to learn about their mental health and their experiences with mental health services. We aim to identify practices or strategies that improve mental health for bisexuals, and also identify barriers to mental health or mental health services. These findings will be used to improve the mental health services available to bisexual people.

For this study our definition of bisexual includes people attracted to more than one sex and/or gender. This may include those who self-identify as bisexual, queer, pansexual, omnisexual, two-spirited, fluid, or who choose another non-heterosexual identity label (5).

Our study will use respondent-driven sampling (RDS), a method by which people who complete the survey recruit new participants from their own social networks (6). RDS has been demonstrated to reduce sample bias. Without it, for example, one eager participant, say Project Coordinator Margaret Robinson, could recruit a large number of participants who are like herself and we might conclude that most bi people in Ontario are bisexual researchers in their 30s. Respondent-driven sampling allows us to calculate statistics to represent all bi people in Ontario by looking at how difficult each person who completed the survey was to recruit.

This project is guided by a community Advisory Committee made up of a diverse group of bisexuals from across the province. These committee members will help shape the language and content of the survey questions. Working with advisory committees helps keep our research relevant to the community that is being studied, and is one of the ways we put our values of partnership and accountability into practice.

Project Team

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Lori Ross
  • Co-Investigators: Dr. Greta Bauer, Loralee Gillis and Ishwar Persad
  • Project Coordinator: Dr. Margaret Robinson
  • Consultant: Cheryl Dobinson

For more information, contact Margaret Robinson:

Email:
margaret_robinson@camh.net
Phone:
1-416-535-8501 ext. 7385

Canadian Institutes of Health Research Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grant

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