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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

Mental Health

There are three important aspects regarding mental health care that will be addressed here.

  1. Mental Health Care Basics

    It is important to know what mental health care is and when it might be needed. You will find this information in Mental Health Care Basics.

  2. Topics include:

    Who needs mental health care?

    What is mental health care?

    Who provides mental health care?

    Help yourself when you can

  3. Accessing Mental Health Care

    Next, it is important to know how to find a competent mental health practitioner. Hearing Loss should not interfere with obtaining quality mental health care. Unfortunately, because of communication barriers, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may have difficulty accessing good care. People who are deaf or hard of hearing also need to consider the practitioner’s knowledge of hearing loss and Deaf Culture. Mental Health Access includes Michigan and National resources and a discussion of issues related to access for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

  4. Topics include:

    Payment for Mental Health Care

    Access Issues for People who are deaf or hard of hearing

    Mental Health Resources

    Advocacy and Professional Resources

  5. Successful Living with Hearing Loss

    Hearing loss that occurs later in life, whether mild or severe, may increase a person’s stress and anxiety and may lead to isolation and depression. Find more information in Successful Living with Hearing Loss.

Mental Health Care Basics

Who needs mental health care?

Many people have a need for mental health care at some time in their lives. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that over 22% of adults have a mental health disorder in any one year. That is about 1 out of every 5 adults. Mental Health disorders may be related to physical changes and brain chemistry, or to major life changes, such as birth, death, or loss of a job. Mental health disorders may also be hereditary. If one of your parents had a mental health disorder, you are more likely to experience a disorder yourself.

If you, or someone you know, experience any of the following, mental health care might be needed:

  • Feel hopeless, guilty, helpless, worthless or sad.

  • No interest in activities like school, work, or socializing.

  • Change in sleep patterns (too much or not enough).

  • Change in eating, weight gain or loss.

  • Difficulty making decisions, concentrating, or mood swings.

  • Much less energy or much more energy than usual.

  • Want to hurt self or others.

  • Believe behavior is controlled by others or is sent from strangers on TV, radio, etc.

  • Worried about death, believe others are plotting against, or seeing or hearing things others do not.

  • Having problems because of drugs or alcohol, or feeling bad about drinking or using drugs.

  • Hiding drinking, black outs, or using drugs or alcohol to feel better.

What is mental health care?

Mental health care, like medical care, is individually chosen based on the person’s needs. Treatment may include:

  • Counseling or therapy– talking with a trained professional;

  • Group counseling– a trained person leads a group of people who have similar concerns;

  • Support groups– people who are not professionals, but share common problems support each other;

  • Instruction in self–treatment – relaxation techniques, bio–feedback, etc.;

  • Medication prescribed by a medical doctor.

Most people receiving mental health treatment live at home and go to appointments at an office for mental health care. People only stay overnight in the hospital only when there is danger of hurting oneself or another person, or in other unique situations.

Who provides mental health care?

Mental health providers usually have a Masters degree, a doctorate, or an M.D., in psychology, counseling, psychiatry, or social work. Providers may work in clinics and hospitals, or may have private offices. Providers often have specialties such as substance abuse or deafness.

Help yourself when you can

These articles explain simple things your can do to help yourself.


By: Stanley Popovich

Everybody deals with anxiety and depression, however sometimes it can be difficult to manage that anxiety. As a result, here is a brief list of techniques that you can use to help manage your most persistent fears and every day anxieties.

When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, the first thing you can do is to divide the task into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get your mind off of the problem. Get some fresh air, listen to some music, or do an activity that will give you a fresh perspective on things.

Try to visualize a red stop sign in your mind when you encounter a fear provoking thought. When the negative thought comes, think of a red stop sign that serves as a reminder to stop focusing on that thought and to think of something else. Next, try to think of something positive to replace the negative thought.

Another technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that makes you feel good. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you in your pocket. Whenever you feel depressed or frustrated, open up your small notebook and read those statements. This will help to manage your negative thinking.

Learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. You never know when the answers you are looking for will come to your doorstep. We may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.

Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your depression and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.

Dealing with our persistent fears is not easy. Remember that all you can do is to do your best each day, hope for the best, and take things in stride. Patience, persistence, education, and being committed in trying to solve your problem will go along way in fixing your problems.


Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:

Accessing Mental Health Care

Payment for Mental Health Care

In most cases, the provider you select will help you determine a way to pay for mental health services. If you do not have health insurance or the money to cover mental health services with a private provider, there are public services available. Many health insurance policies cover some mental health care. Some businesses provide Employee Assistance Programs that offer confidential assessment and referral for employees who are having difficulty. Many clinics offer services on a sliding scale so that people without insurance can afford care. Medicaid covers some mental health care.

Access Issues for People who are deaf or hard of hearing

Most mental health treatment and diagnosis is based on communication. Therefore, it is important that the provider understand hearing loss, how to communicate effectively, and the impact of hearing loss on the individual. It is important, for example, that practitioners be alert to the tendency for a hard of hearing person to nod agreement without understanding what was said. Knowing how to work effectively with an interpreter is important in developing rapport with a deaf consumer.

Mental health providers should be “culturally sensitive.” That means that the person understands cultural differences and what is normal for members of a specific community. For Deaf people, that means that the provider understands Deaf culture, the Deaf community, and the unique idioms of American Sign Language (ASL.) It does not mean that he or she uses ASL fluently. An interpreter may still be needed.

A hard of hearing person will want to know that the provider understands hearing loss and the impacts of hearing loss on the entire family and work community. This may actually be more difficult to determine, as there is no set standard to measure skill or understanding in this area. If you feel that your needs are not being addressed it is reasonable to seek another practitioner

Standardized testing that is designed for hearing people is usually not appropriate for people with a severe hearing loss or who use ASL to communicate. A practitioner skilled in working with people who are deaf and hard of hearing will know what tests may be used and how to modify the test without skewing results. In particular, verbal tests, which require accurately hearing instructions and responding, may not be suitable for people with hearing loss.

Ideally, people with hearing loss should work with a practitioner who has skills and experience in serving Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing people. If a mental health provider does not understand hearing loss, they may misunderstand behaviors and give a wrong diagnosis. In some communities, there are no practitioners with special skills for serving deaf and hard of hearing people. Unfortunately, when a person has a mental health disorder it may be difficult to take on the role of self–advocate or trainer to the therapist.

The Michigan Coalition for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People is working to improve mental health services for people in Michigan. To understand how mental health access can be a problem, see the article: Is there a Problem?

For a list of practitioners with skills in serving deaf or hard of hearing people click here.

It is important to be very clear about your rights when receiving mental health services. The National Association for the Deaf (NAD) lists the following rights

  1. Communicate with a mental health care professional in a confidential and safe environment in the language and mode that is most comfortable for you to use.

  2. Clearly understand the problem you have and the recommendations being made for your care.

  3. Clearly understand what medication you are being asked to take, what the side effects are, and what the medication will do.

  4. Be informed about why a report is being made, for example, on child abuse or neglect.

  5. Ask for a referral from your insurance company to a qualified professional who works with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  6. . Your choice of provider or interpreter, if there is one who you are comfortable with.

If you or someone you know is unable to receive appropriate mental health services, Michigan Protection and Advocacy may be able to assist:

Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc.
Lansing Phone: (517) 487–1755
TOLL FREE (800) 288–5923 (Voice or TTY)
Fax (517) 487–0827

Mental Health Resources

Michigan TTY Service Directory lists TTY numbers of Michigan mental health providers. Click here for the Directory.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Skilled Practitioners in Michigan
This list of practitioners is provided courtesy of E–Michigan and is for information only. Listing does not mean that E–Michigan knows or recommends the practitioner. If you have additions to this list, please send the name and contact information to:

Michigan’s Community Mental Health Centers

Clerc Center Info to Go: Mental Health Services for People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals

The Salvation Army Harbor Light
This is Michigan’s only Chemical Dependency program specifically designed to meet the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. It is located in Monroe, Michigan.
V 734/457–4340
TTY 734/242–8012
FAX 734/457–3842

Advocacy and Professional Resources:

View the National Association For the Deaf Mental Health Fact Sheet.

Deafness and Mental Health Fact Sheet from Mind
This is a broad overview of mental health issues in the deaf population. Although from the United Kingdom, much of the information is applicable to the USA.

International Federation of Hard of Hearing People:
Mental Health Practitioner’s Guide

This manual is written in an attempt to fill an existing void in the delivery of mental health services. That void is based on a lack of information about the mental health needs and concerns of people who are hard of hearing and those who are late–deafened.

Mental Health and Deafness International
This website is designed to enable mental health and deafness professionals to keep up to date on services, training and research worldwide.

Position Statement on Culturally Competent and Linguistically appropriate Mental Health Services
A position paper by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR):
Mental Health Service Delivery to Deaf, Hard–of–Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Individuals From Diverse Racial, Ethnic, and Linguistic Backgrounds

This paper explains the reasons the Federal Government has made this population a priority for improved mental health services.

Mental Health Consideration for People who are Late Deafened
A Chapter from “Standards of Care for the Delivery of Mental Health Services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons.” Click here.

Standards of Care for the Delivery of Mental Health Services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons
This document is a tool to be used in the development and provision of mental health services. It may be useful to programs desiring to improve or establish mental heal services for deaf and hard of hearing persons.

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