The largest study of bisexual Australians has led to the formation of a new organisation aimed at improving their mental health through support, education and research.
Bi+ Australia is the brainchild of La Trobe University researcher Julia Taylor and follows the completion of her Who I Am study – a survey of more than 2600 bisexual Australians.
Mrs Taylor, from La Trobe’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, said her study found the rate of poor mental health in the bisexual community was worse than previously thought.
“The aim of the Who I Am study was to shed light on the little-understood reasons for poor mental health among people who are attracted to the more than one gender,” Mrs Taylor said.
“What we found was high levels of psychological distress among the majority of participants. “They told us they had to pretend to be straight in some situation and gay in others.
“They faced questions about their sexuality from members of both the heterosexual and LGBTIQ+ communities.
“Many participants reported being told their sexuality wasn’t real. Gay men and lesbians tried to convince them they were really gay or lesbian and straight people insisted they were just experimenting.
“The very high rates of poor mental health and suicidality in this group are shocking and confirm why we need to do more to support bisexual people.”
Mrs Taylor plans to publish her findings in the coming months to highlight the extent of the problem.
In the meantime, she has launched Bi+ Australia – the first national organisation dedicated to improving mental health outcomes for bisexual people.
Bi+ Australia offers specialised counselling to bisexual Australians and their families and includes an education hub for service providers and the public, as well as a research centre.
“Our mission is to support people who are attracted to more than one gender and enhance the understanding, acceptance, inclusion and celebration of bisexuality and pansexuality in Australia,” Mrs Taylor said.
Access to Bi+ Australia services and more information is available here.