Five Ways You Can Look After Bi Mental Health

mental-health-2019924_960_720Bisexual Mental Health Month (BMHM) may feel long over, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait another year to discuss the sweeping mental health issues facing the bi+ community, or to feel guilt-free about focusing on your own mental health troubles. Here are a few things bi+ people and our allies can do to help safeguard the mental health of the bi+ community.

BMHM is an American campaign that runs throughout March to raise awareness of the mental health issues facing the bisexual community. Due to its online presence, it’s beginning to become internationally observed. But mental health doesn’t isn’t just an issue once a year. Here’s how you can look after yours, and others, all year round.

Find bi+ friendly support

Unfortunately, many bisexual people have difficulty getting support for their mental health issues, despite having some of the worse mental health stats in the LGBT+ community. Bi+ men are 6.3 times more likely, and bi+ women 5.9 times more likely, to experience thoughts of self harm than their heterosexual counterparts. On top of this, bi+ women are 64% more likely to have problems related to food and eating and 37% to self-harm than lesbians.

Many bi+ individuals have also reported negative experiences with disclosing their sexual orientation to mental health workers, with many saying they choose not to out of fear of prejudice.

But there are some bi+ friendly resources you can turn to. Laura DelloStritto, a spokesperson for BMHM recommends the BiZone and GLMA for lists of bi+ friendly mental health services. For UK specific resources, try Bi Community News.

Join a local group

Being part of a bisexual social or community group can be a great way to validate your experiences and speak about things that are bothering you in a safe space you know you’ll be listened to, an experience which can prove to be very cathartic. “Community groups can serve as an outlet to find social support and share with others who may have had similar experiences,” says Laura.

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Consider coming out

The bi+ community has lower rate of coming out than the gay and lesbian community, with only 21% of bi women out to the most important people in their lives and only a tiny 12% of bi men. The same stats for lesbians and gay men are 71% and 77% respectively. Jen Yockney, the chairperson of Biphoria, thinks this may be having an effect on the community’s mental health.

“If you can, being out is the single biggest thing, not just for yourself but for others too,” suggests Jen.

“Naturally, that’s not saying everyone should or must be out, you know your own circumstances and whether it is safe for you physically, financially and emotionally.”

Confront biphobia

“The thing is – and it’s what we need to be clear on every time we talk about this – is what causes our mental health issues is not bisexuality but biphobia,” says Jen.

“Biphobia and bi-erasure isolate bisexuals from straight and gay/lesbian communities and can contribute to various mental health issues,” says Laura, who believes LGBT+ organisations should be actively calling out biphobia and bi-erasure to create a safer space for bisexuals”.

Whether it’s coming from hetronormative society, or from within the LGBT community, biphobia can seem like it’s everywhere and overwhelming.

It’s important that the onus of calling out biphobia isn’t only left to bi+ individuals, as constantly defending our legitimacy can be mentally exhausting. Bi+ allies can help safeguard their loved ones by not allowing prejudice against bisexuals to go unchecked.

“Organisations could also consider hosting a bi+ specific support group or bi+ inclusivity training facilitated by bisexuals in their community.”

Validate each other

“Bisexual people are our friends, family, partners, and members of our communities–whether we are aware of it or not. We can all play a role in improving the health of bisexuals by supporting and validating their identity,” says Laura.

She adds: “for starters, bi+ allies can believe that bisexuals exist, avoid making assumptions of sexuality based on a person’s current partner, and speak up when bisexuals are being excluded or defamed by others.”

Validation from within or outside the bi+ community may not be able to cure mental illnesses, but it can help soothe feelings of self-doubt and a lack of confidence, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and low self esteem.

For more information, follow the Bisexual Mental Health Campaign on Twitter at @BRC_Central. You can also find Biphoria resources here.

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Lois Shearing

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