A new national organisation aimed at improving the mental health of bisexual people in Australia has been established, following a study that was conducted last year.

The Who I Am study was conducted by La Trobe University researcher Julia Taylor and aimed to explore the reasons for poor mental health in bisexual people.

It was the largest study of bisexual Australians, and Taylor said the study’s results were worse than they had previously anticipated.

“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 more than one gender,” she 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 LGBTI communities. Many participants reported being told their sexuality wasn’t real, with gay men and lesbians trying to convince them they were really gay or lesbian and straight people insisting they were just experimenting.

“The very high rates of poor mental health and tendency towards suicide in this group are shocking and confirm why we need to do more to support bisexual people.”

Fuelled by her findings – which she intends to publish in the coming months – Taylor has also officially launched Bi+ Australia, the first national organisation dedicated to improving mental health outcomes for bisexual people.

The organisation will offer specialised counselling to bisexual Australians and their families, and will include 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 bisexual and pansexuality in Australia,” she said.

Last month, bisexual advocate Steve Spencer penned a piece for the Star Observer on Bi Visibility Day, held annually on September 23.

He highlighted the widespread misinformation and stigma around bisexual people, and how they can often prevent bisexual men from coming out about their sexuality.

“…Guys, almost always my age or younger, have faced brutal opposition to their bisexuality from within the LGBTI community,” he wrote.

“I’m calling time on this crap – no-one should have to hide or feel like they’re lesser than for being who they are.”

Related reading: Why is bisexual acceptance in the LGBTI community so hard to find?

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