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Health - Mental Health Services - Deaf

Helping Deaf People with Mental and Emotional Problems

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Updated October 13, 2010

Although interpreting services are frequently available, specialized mental health services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people appears to be relatively hard to find. From time to time, I get an e-mail request for information about such programs for deaf people in need of such services. A long time ago, I myself needed such services locally and the only program I could find was a small county-run program that had therapists who could sign. The program was so small that it could not serve many people, and I was fortunate to be able to get services at a time when I needed them.

Deaf children and teens are also sometimes in need of mental health services. Just as hearing teens may sometimes have emotional or mental problems or be troubled and involved with drug abuse, so may deaf and hard-of-hearing teens. Finding needed services for troubled deaf children and teens can be difficult. One couple I know personally had to search all over the United States to find a residential program for their deaf teenager before they finally found one in Wyoming.

Mental Health Centers

Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., has a mental health center that serves both the Gallaudet community and deaf and hard-of-hearing people from outside the Gallaudet community.

Internet-Based Video Therapists

Some independent psychotherapists are offering video consultations in addition to traditional in-office visits. One independent therapist doing this is Allison Freeman, PhD, a Los Angeles–based psychotherapist. Dr. Freeman, who has hearing loss herself, charges the same for video therapy as for office-based therapy. In addition, the Alternative Solutions Center, a deaf-owned practice, provides psychotherapy and consulting through video and e-mail as well as in-person consultations.

State-Provided Services and Social Services Agencies

Some states offer special programs for mental health services, including:

  • Alabama Department of Mental Health has a Deaf Services program.
  • Indiana has a deaf and hard-of-hearing mental health cooperative.
  • Missouri's Department of Mental Health has a deaf services unit.
  • New Hampshire's Greater Nashua Mental Health Center at Community Council has mental health services for the deaf in New Hampshire.
  • New York's New York Society for the Deaf provides mental health services.
  • North Carolina has a statewide network of regional specialists.
  • South Carolina has a statewide referral program for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, plus a group home. Mental health professionals working with deaf/hard-of-hearing people can communicate with each other through the state-sponsored Deafnet.
  • Virginia's Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has a statewide deaf services mental health program.

Treatment Hospitals

A few hospitals have specialized programs for meeting deaf patients' mental health needs. For example, the Austin State Hospital in Texas has a specialized inpatient psychiatric program within its center for the deaf. A similar hospital in Texas is the Green Oaks Mental Health Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

Halfway Houses

Halfway houses for deaf and hard-of-hearing people recovering from mental illness or addiction are scarce. There is a Deaf Freedom House in Fort Worth, Texas, for deaf people recovering from addiction or mental illness, and Deaf-Reach, in Washington, D.C., runs the Otis House community residence and the day program, Deaf Horizons, both for deaf people with mental illnesses.

Schools with Specialized Services

Residential services for deaf children and teens are difficult to find. Information to Go maintains a listing of Residential Programs for Deaf/Emotionally Disturbed Children and Adolescents. This listing has contact information for programs, such as the Cathedral Home for Children in Wyoming and the National Deaf Academy in Mount Dora, Florida. Another residential group home is the Laurent Clerc group home run by the New York Foundling, in New York City. Another one is the Pressley Ridge School for the Deaf, a small private charter school in Pennsylvania for deaf emotionally disturbed students.

Are you seeking mental health services for a deaf student? There is a Yahoo group, the National Association of School Psychologists special interest group (NASP-IG-SchPsyDeaf) on deaf and hard of hearing students and families. In addition, you can discuss any mental health and deafness issues on the About.com Deafness forum.[/p

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