The Open UniversitySkip to content

Depression and/or oppression? Bisexuality and mental health

Barker, Meg John (2015). Depression and/or oppression? Bisexuality and mental health. Journal of Bisexuality, 15(3) pp. 369–384.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The following paper is a write-up of the keynote talk which I presented at UK BiReCon in 2012, and then – in a revised form – at the first US BiReCon in 2013. My gratitude to Alex Iantaffi and Lauren Beach for enabling me to attend the latter, and to all the attendees for making me so welcome and for engaging so fully with our discussions around compassion and self-care.

Given this paper’s origins, I hope that readers will forgive the tone for being somewhat more informal and polemic than that of a standard academic article in places, as well as the tendency to draw heavily on my own work over the years as expected in a keynote talk.

Perhaps the most important, and consistent, finding in existing research on bisexuality is the fact that bisexual people are more prone to mental health problems than either heterosexual, or lesbian and gay, people. This finding has been replicated across many different countries and contexts, as readers of this journal will be well aware (e.g. Jorm et al., 2002; King & McKeown, 2003; Schrimshaw et al., 2013; Colledge et al., in prep)Therefore, in presenting a keynote talk on bisexuality it seemed appropriate – even essential – to focus on issues of mental health.

My interest in this topic is threefold: First I am an academic who is interested in both sexuality and mental health, and has written on both areas over the last decade; secondly as a therapists I work with largely LGBTQ clients; and finally as an individual I have – perhaps inevitably given the aforementioned findings – struggled with these matters on a personal level, and within the bisexual and other sexual and gender communities that I am a part of.

This paper considers bisexual mental health from both an individual, and a community, perspective. It asks how we, as individuals, generally understand mental health, and what ideas might be useful in relation to this. It also asks how the bisexual and wider LGBTQ communities that we are located in can relate to the ways in which we engage with mental health.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1529-9716
Extra Information: 16 pp.
Keywords: bisexuality; mental health; bisexual community; LGBT; depression; compassion; oppression
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 43895
Depositing User: Meg-John Barker
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2015 08:15
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2018 13:36
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU