Deaf people’s experience of mental health problems
Deaf people experience mental health problems, just like everyone else. Just as a hearing person may lose their job and feel depressed, it is the same for a Deaf person.
Research into mental health and deafness is limited, but some of the evidence suggests that Deaf people are more likely to experience a mental health problem than a hearing person.
Children and adolescents
In one study, it has been suggested that 40% of Deaf children have some kind of mental health problem, compared to 25% of hearing children. Interestingly, Deaf children of Deaf parents are no more likely to have a mental health problem. Being the Deaf child of hearing parents raises the chances of you experiencing a mental health problem.
Many doctors believe there is a physical cause to mental health problems. Some would argue that this cause may be linked to the Deaf person’s original hearing loss.
While this may be an explanation in some cases, this would not be enough to explain the difference between a 40% likelihood and 25% likelihood. What we do know is that people are more likely to experience mental distress if they have certain life experiences: low self-esteem, poor attachment, lack of communication with care-givers. These, and other experiences, can contribute to the development of a mental health problem. Unfortunately, Deaf children of hearing persons are more likely to have these experiences. This may explain why Deaf children of Deaf parents, who are able to bond and communicate with their parents, are no more likely to experience a mental health problem.
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