The deaf community struggles daily with stigma, prejudice, and communication, but that's not all: medical studies have found that deaf people suffer from mental health issues at about twice the rate of the general population, and also have real problems accessing needed mental health services.
The mental health issues common in the deaf community include depression, anxiety and severe illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Mental illnesses are compounded in the deaf community by difficulties communicating with care providers — researchers have found that lip-reading isn't adequate, interpreters who know sign language are scarce, and many diagnostic tools depend on knowledge that's not common among those who are deaf. Mental Health in the Deaf Community Lots of people have some hearing loss — between 15% and 26% of the population, according to one study.
But it's a different issue to be profoundly deaf, especially if you became deaf before you had a chance to learn spoken language. About seven in every 10,000 people fall into this category, and most regard themselves as a cultural minority that uses sign language instead of spoken language. Struggles to function in a hearing world can lead to mental health issues.
In one study involving hearing impaired individuals, some 41% said they believed that communication problems coupled with family stresses and overall prejudice could cause or contribute to suicidal depression, substance abuse or violent behaviour in some cases. Other studies have found that about one-quarter of deaf students have learning difficulties, developmental delay, visual impairment, or autism.
Deaf children who have trouble communicating with their families are four times more likely to be affected by mental health disorders than deaf children who have few or no problems communicating with family members. Bullying of deaf children also may be common at school, and deaf boys and girls are much more likely to be victims of sexual assault. Communication Needed, but Scarce Mental health services are difficult for deaf people to access. One small study involving 54 people found that more than half hadn't been able to find mental health services that they, as deaf people, could use.
In addition, psychiatric conditions such as mood disorders are frequently under-diagnosed in the deaf community, in large part due to communication difficulties that include: few experienced interpreters between English and sign language problems in translation between spoken and sign language differences in how deaf people display feelings and perceive mental health Reading and writing aren't an adequate substitute for spoken language in this context.
Hearing loss interferes quite a lot with vocabulary, and so many deaf high school graduates read and write at a grade-school level. In addition, lip-reading is far from 100% accurate — the average deaf adult can lip-read only 26% to 40% of speech.