Professor Kitana Ananda
Mental Health Concerns Within The Deaf Community.
A person who is deaf is at a higher risk of developing emotional and psychological problems than an individual who is not deaf. Most of the time the problems start in the individual’s home. These problems may affect their everyday life activities and may even cause communication delays and or barriers. This paper will examine mental health diagnoses as they correlate to adults and children who are deaf.
Mental health diagnoses for the deaf has been associated with bipolar disorder, depression, and ADHD. An individual with a mental health disability often needs specialized treatment and or therapy. Society thinks special treatment is not needed and expresses persons who are deaf are capable of just “dealing” with their disability. People who are Deaf are unsure of treatment services available and or feel isolated or embarrassed in seeking services.
This paper will discuss mental health issues in the deaf community and the importance of community awareness for this group. While both papers examined issues between mental health in deaf individuals’, they differ in their research which includes different treatment methods and procedures. The first paper concentrates on children who are deaf and their families as well as the key factors behind the supports they receive.
The second paper focused on comparing adults who are deaf and hearing individuals. It to determine their difference between their mental status for each group. Peter A. Hindley’s paper Mental Health Problems in Deaf Children examined how “deafness comes in many forms”. (Hindley p.114) He also examined how clinicians whom work with children who are deaf need to be understanding to make sure they provide the appropriate services.
Peter A. Hindley, discussed the benefits of using British Sign Language as a technique (BSL) for children who are deaf. BSL is a “language distinct from English, with its own syntax and lexicon are different from English” (Hindley p.115). BSL is also different from American Sign Language (ASL) because it is its own language. BSL provides children who are deaf with a better way to communicate. Part of the study had shown techniques to be effective by practicing points such as gathering a group of children using BSL and informing and teaching their parents.
Peter A. Hindley felt like the parents would be able to communicate and try to understand “why” and “how” (For instance: “Why do you feel this way? How can I help?). Hindley stresses that parents play a major role in their children’s life meaning everything that the parents do can negatively affect the child. It was advised that parents should have open communication so their child doesn’t grow up to be disoriented. Hindley wanted to prove early deafness as well as pointing out the issues which cause the social, cultural, psychological and medical aspects.
On a social, cultural and psychological perspective, it was stated that “parents respond in many different ways to the knowledge that their child is deaf. Their response is shaped by their previous experience of deafness” (Hindley p.115). The majority of these parents didn’t know how to accept their child’s deafness. Many had different views on it and didn’t know how to go about it although they knew that there would’ve been a possibility that the child will grow up to be deaf.
Marit H. Kvam, Mitchell Loeb paper Mental Health in Deaf Adults: Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression Among Hearing and Deaf Individuals paper reveals mental health issues among deaf adults compared to adults who can hear. There were studies conducted based on the Norwegian postal survey and one among the general population (Kvam p.1-2)(1995-1997), as well as the deaf generation. In addition, analysis discovered that the deaf showed more symptoms of mental health problems than the hearing.
Norwegian study examined the “interrelation between psychological problems, social activity and social network” (2007 Kvam p. 1). The results displayed that the deaf were two-four times higher in distress than hearing people. Many deaf people were gathered in this study and they noticed once they lost their hearing it affected their everyday life activities, such as not being able to socialize with others, and by having suicidal moments because there was a communication barrier.
It was also discovered that hard of hearing, deaf adults and children were either a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse than hearing people because they do not have the mental capacity to express what’s going on or what happened. Usually, a hearing individual may be capable of saying something and the deaf individual may have a hard time because of the lack of interpreters or overall a person who may know their language.
When an individual experience hearing loss at a young age its likely for them to experience the quality of life than a hearing person. (Knutson, Johnson, Sullivan p.2 ). As a result, there’s a higher chance that mental health disorders occur because so many individuals bottle up emotions inside and are not able to express themselves. Peter A.Hindley, didn’t specify on how many people were tested in this study but instead described some factors which lead to mental health-related issues. He stressed how important it is to recognize the depth of the issue.
On a medical perspective children, mental health is believed to be caused by the central nervous system(CNS). Medically, deaf children are at a higher risk of CNS than hearing children by 15% compared to children with other related issues such as cerebral palsy or being an epileptic. (Hindley p. 115) Hindley believes that in the medical world its vital to carefully evaluate children because there may be many misdiagnosed.
In response to the social, cultural and psychological perspective on deafness, it states that parents respond in many ways and it’s important that families should have an option on what services they would need to address their child being deaf. One would question, should the child be exposed to sign language in their early stages of hearing loss or should they have the option to go with a cochlear implant? There were many issues on this topic so that’s why he wanted to create an intervention to separate the groups and see which techniques or method is effective to conclude with his study. It seemed like he did make a valid point and/or statement that whether you’re an interpreter for ASL or BSL, social worker, clinicians working with deaf children with mental health issues then you must be aware of their needs and you should also be sensitive about it. For example, dig into the route of the child and try to see why he/she are feeling the way that they’re or what is it exactly is making them act a certain way (are they hyper? are they sad?) He urges that deaf children should indeed seek out and families should support them.