Bisexual community reports need for improvements in mental health services

    TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - New research by the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health (CAMH) and the Sherbourne Health Centre sheds light on the
mental health of bisexual people in Ontario by looking at the context of
mental health issues in this group. The Bisexuality, Mental Health and
Emotional Well-Being Research Project also found that the existing mental
health services do not adequately meet the needs of bisexual people.
    The Ontario-wide project evaluated the experiences of bisexual people
based on three main determinants of health: social factors, including biphobia
and stigma; interpersonal relationships, including those with the LGBT
community, the workplace and partners; and internal factors, including
self-acceptance and identity struggles. The results demonstrated that social
biphobia and stereotypes about bisexuals have far reaching negative effects on
the mental health and well-being of bisexual people.
    Though previous research shows that bisexual people are more likely to
seek help with mental health issues than heterosexuals, many who were surveyed
expressed frustration when interacting with the healthcare system.
    "Bisexual people we interviewed felt that therapists and other health
care providers need a better understanding of the continuums of sexuality and
gender," said Dr. Lori Ross, Scientist with CAMH's Social, Equity and Health
Unit who conducted research on the project. Ross also says that gaps in the
system may point to the need for specialized clinical training. "Many
participants reported that they felt that some queer-friendly therapists were
uncomfortable dealing with certain mental health issues, while mainstream
mental health clinicians did not have an understanding of the specific
challenges faced by bisexual people."
    While many of the respondents also had positive experiences with
queer-friendly clinicians, the report shows that the lack of understanding of
bisexuality also extends into the queer community. "Some clinicians, even
those from the LGBT community, have difficulty seeing bisexuality as a healthy
and legitimate sexual orientation," said Anna Travers, former Program Manager
LGBT Services, Sherbourne Health Centre. Several of the people suggested that
a website is needed listing providers and services that are clinically and
culturally competent in serving bisexual clients. I am happy to say that this
is something that is now being addressed through the soon-to-be-launched
Rainbow Health Ontario website"
    The research explores these problems, along with other difficulties
regarding stereotypes about bisexuality and acceptance among friends, families
and the public. It makes a number of suggestions for fostering a more
inclusive and effective mental health system for bisexual people, including
education for providers and the public along with increased resources for
mental health.
    The research results will be presented at an event on September 23, 2008
from 7-9 pm at Sherbourne Health Centre (333 Sherbourne Street, Toronto).

    The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's
leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH
combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
addiction issues.
    CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

    Sherbourne Health Centre is a free-standing health centre funded by the
Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The Centre provides innovative primary
health care to all the diverse populations of southeast Toronto with special
focus on homeless people, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and
transgendered communities, and newcomers to Canada. Sherbourne's LGBT Primary
Health Care Program provides medical care, counselling, parenting resources
and community health promotion, as well as education and research activities.
Sherbourne's latest initiative, Rainbow Health Ontario, is a provincial
program committed to promoting better access to services and to enhancing the
health and wellbeing of Ontario's lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT)

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview please contact,
Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH, (416) 595-6015; Anna Travers, Director,
Rainbow Health Ontario, Sherbourne Health Centre, (416) 324-4168

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