Mental Health Issues of the Hearing Impaired

by Anne Trueman on  April 3, 2012 at 2:25 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
As compared to general people, people with hearing impairment are twice more susceptible to mental illness. The ironical part is that these people not only experience great difficulty in getting health services; they also receive poor quality health services.
Mental Health Issues of the Hearing Impaired
Mental Health Issues of the Hearing Impaired

The frequency of severely or profoundly deaf people across the world is 7 out of every 10,000 individuals. According to a review published by Dr. Johannes Fellinger and colleagues, it was found that deaf children in particular who unable to convey their thoughts to others, are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders. These children are often predisposed to mistreatment as they are unable to properly communicate their pathos.

It was seen that deaf girls were twice more likely and deaf boys were thrice more likely at the risk of sexual abuse in comparison to those who can hear.

The study highlighted the ineptness of deaf people in accessing the health services and information. They had fear, frustration and mistrust in seeking healthcare services.

Deafness has far-reaching consequences on cognitive, social and emotional development of an individual.

Dr. Johannes Fellinger said, "Improved access to health and mental health care can be achieved by specialist services with professionals trained to directly communicate with deaf people and with sign-language interpreters."

As per the U.S. research, it was seen that around 25 percent of deaf students have learning disabilities, visual impairment, autism and developmental delay.

Communication is a two-way process and essential for socializing. Man, being a social animal, needs to have proper and adequate communication to thrive in the society. It is imperative to realize that deaf people have an equal need and requirement to communicate as everyone else.

The researchers said that the patients of the deaf community require good healthcare services and proper communication as any non-deaf individual.

Owing to the difficulty in providing proper healthcare services and the scarcity of treatment facilities, majority of deaf people are unable to gain access to qualified sign-language interpreters and good treatment. This accounts for the prevalence of mental health problems in deaf people.

The review has analyzed the related factors and laid stress on the heterogeneity of the mental problem. This may help the clinicians in comprehending deaf patients individually. The review has also highlighted the importance of preventive measures. Steps should be taken to prevent the abuse of deaf children.

Hearing screening of the newborn helps the parents in establishing good communication with their deaf children early and could reduce mental health problems in later life.


Mental health of deaf people; Dr.Johannes Fellinger et al; The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9820, Pages 1037 - 1044, 17 March 2012.

Source: Medindia

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