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  WINDY CITY TIMES

New psychology handbook focuses on sexual, gender minority mental health
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2020-08-23

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A comprehensive new psychology book, The Oxford Handbook of Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health, was recently released—and it features essays from dozens of academics across multiple countries addressing a variety of issues specific to this population.

San Diego State University Women's Studies Professor and Williams Institute UCLA School of Law Visiting Distinguished Scholar Dr. Esther D. Rothblum edited the handbook.

"I was invited to edit The Oxford Handbook of Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health because of the fast pace of advances in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexuality ( LGBTQ+ ) studies and my own research on sexuality and gender mental health," Rothblum told Windy City Times. "[This book] begins with a section on the history of sexual orientation and mental health, the history of gender identity and mental health and the history of these categories in the [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] DSM. The next section uses an intersectional approach to provide an up-to-date overview of research on the mental health of sexual and gender minorities, roughly following the classification system in the DSM.

"The third section used an intersectional approach across mental health categories to focus on specific sexual and gender minority populations. [It looks at] the mental health of African American, LatinX, Native American/two-spirit, Asian American and Pacific Islander, biracial and biethnic, older, immigrant and refugee, bisexual, transgender, gender non-binary, intersex, asexual, pansexual and plurisexual and polyamorous/non-monogamous sexual and gender minorities.

"[There are also] sexual and gender minorities who are children or youth, couples and families, men who have sex with men/women who have sex with women, people living with HIV/AIDS and those who have physical or cognitive disabilities, as well as the intersection of physical and mental health.

"The final chapter focused on the role of stigma and minority stress, the role of resilience, and future directions in sexual and gender minority mental health."

Rothblum told this publication that getting students involved in scholarly publications and presentations is of great interest to her and that most of her publications include student co-authors.

"I am delighted that many senior authors collaborated with graduate student co-authors, including the two senior authors from Chicago: University of Illinois Chicago ( UIC ) College of Nursing's Dr. Wendy Bostwick and Dr. Alicia K. Matthews," said Rothblum.

Bostwick, an associate professor in the Population Health Nursing Science department, co-wrote "Bisexual Mental Health" with UIC Disability Studies PhD candidate Elizabeth A. Harrison; Matthews, a professor in the Population Health Nursing Science department, co-wrote "Nicotine Use Among Sexual and Gender and Minority Populations" with UIC College of Nursing Department of Health and Systems Sciences Graduate Student Cherdsak Duangchan.

"Dr. Bostwick is on my dissertation committee and she invited me to join her in co-authoring the chapter," said Harrison. "I was really excited to write about bisexual mental health, as looking at bispecific health issues is so crucial. I am so glad for bi-specific chapters to be included in major textbooks such as this one. Bisexual people experience higher rates of many mental health conditions than heterosexual people, and often even than gay and lesbian people. These elevated rates of mental illness are especially pronounced among bisexual women.

"This handbook also invited authors to move beyond summarizing existing literature and propose new ideas about the topic. I think we highlighted several important issues and ideas, but for me as a Disability Studies scholar, it was especially exciting to apply Disability Studies and Mad Studies ( a critical approach to the study of psychiatry and mental health which examines the oppression of people labeled 'mentally ill' ) theories to bi mental health. People most frequently look at sexual and gender minority health issues from a medical lens, and I am interested in scholars also looking at social, political, cultural and environmental understandings of disability and health."

Harrison said the chapter looked at the high rates of many mental illnesses among individual bisexual people in addition to looking for solutions to big picture societal issues that create inequities in the bisexual community. They added that they also expressed a need for the research to go beyond Europe, Australia and North America to gain a fuller picture of what bisexual people face across the globe as well as partnering with BIPOC communities and trans and gender non-conforming communities.

"I also work as a research assistant on one of Dr. Bostwick's research studies about bisexual men," said Harrison. "It has been a really powerful experience to learn from an expert in bisexual health research and also to have a mentor who is also bisexual."

"As someone who has been writing about and researching bisexual health for 20 years, it is truly gratifying to be able to work with the next generation of bi+ health scholars, like Elizabeth," said Bostwick. "This chapter was absolutely a collaborative effort. I think this work makes a unique contribution by incorporating frameworks and theories that have not previously been used when discussing mental health inequities among bisexual populations. Overall, I think the book does a tremendous job including populations and topics that are often overlooked in the broader gay and lesbian health literature."

"I hope that researchers, scholars, health providers and activists can come together to organize against biphobia," said Harrison. "Such organizing could meaningfully improve the wellbeing of bisexual people now and into the future."


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