Deaf & Mental Health Individuals Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Secondly, there is a need for a Code of Ethics to interpret mental health in these settings. Third, therapists require training that consists of knowledge about the cognitive, social, emotional and psychological development of deaf people. Fourth, interpreters also need specialized training for therapeutic contexts. Finally, both therapists and interpreters need to work collaboratively with the deaf community's professional organizations to offer informative and psychoeducational workshops for deaf members and to provide them with further insights on the role that the therapist plays, the purpose of and techniques that are used in therapy and the function of the interpreters and families in the therapeutic process.

Given this found need for better training, education and understanding by healthcare professionals and interpreters, it comes as no surprise, then, that deaf individuals may be reluctant to get mental health care support when they need it or have greater fear, mistrust and frustration than the general public when it comes to having encounters with mental healthcare providers. This is what was found in another study by Steinberg et al. (2005), "Health Care System Accessibility Experiences and Perceptions of Deaf People. The authors collected information regarding healthcare communication and perceptions of clinician attitudes as well as both positive and negative encounters with mental healthcare providers. They found that deaf individuals often felt mistrust toward these individuals. On the other hand, some of them did have positive experiences. This was when there were medically experienced interpreters, professionals who had sign language ability and who did their best to enhance the communication process. A significant number of the people interviewed said they did not know much about their legal rights nor how to advocate for themselves in such situations. Some did feel that those in the healthcare field need to learn more about the sociocultural aspects of deafness.

It was the authors' conclusion, therefore, that deaf people need to become more vocal about any negative experiences they are having with the healthcare services. Physicians also have do to their part in improving this situation. Further, deaf individuals need to look at ways that they can increase their inclination and ability to be self-advocates and recognize their legal rights.

In this last article, some of the deaf individuals who were interviewed saw themselves differently than those who have other disabilities. For example, one person stated, "Doctors are patient with people who are blind or in wheelchairs, but they are not as patient with us deaf people. Maybe it's because we can't (read and write well). The people in wheelchairs and (those who) are blind can speak, but we can't, and we have to write back and forth with the doctors." Based on the conclusions of the four articles in this review, it would seem that people who have other disabilities, for example being blind, would not be treated much better in the mental healthcare facilities than the deaf. The healthcare providers that were described, especially in the first two studies, did not appear to be open to anyone that did not fit their expectations.

Since one article did show the positive impact of increased learning and training, it would seem practical to provide more education to those healthcare providers who will have one-on-one contacts with the deaf (and other disabled individuals). At the same time, the interpreters and therapists need to know how to better communicate with this population and more doctors need to recognize the importance of having a better way of "talking" with their patients. Lastly, the deaf have to be able to become more knowledgeable about their rights, so they can feel comfortable, regardless of the situation, in asking for something that is owed to them.


DeVinney, J, & Murphy, S. (2002) Mental Health Experiences and Deafness: Personal and Legal Perspectives. Psychiatric rehabilitative journal, 25(3), 304-309.

Cornes, a. & Napier, J. (2005) Challenges of mental health interpreting when working with deaf people. Australasian Psychiatry. 13(4).

Dickert, J. (1988) Examination of Bias in Mental Health Evaluation of Deaf Patients.

Social Work, May-June.

Steinberg, a.G., Bornett, S., Meador, H.E., Wiggins, E.A., & Zazove, P. (2005) Populations…

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