“when the world comes crashing at
it’s okay to let others
help pick up the pieces
if we’re present to take part in your
when your circumstances are great
we are more than capable
of sharing your pain”
― Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers
As we emerge from the winter season, our exposure to limited sunlight and longer periods of darkness may affect our mental and emotional well-being.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which can bring with it additional anxiety, depression and other stress about romance and relationships. Research shows that deaf people are more likely to struggle socially, emotionally and with other issues impacting mental health.
Tips for Self-Care
“Recovery is not so much a dream as it is a plan.” – Carolyn Spring
In “Actually, I am Not Okay! Mental Health in the Deaf Community,” Deaf Unity offers some self-care strategies:
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. You are not alone. It is so important that you do not struggle in silence.
- Eat well. Deaf nutritionist Jeanann Doyle explains that good nutrition is tied to positive mental health.
- Enjoy time with friends. Research has shown that early or pervasive lack of communication access with family members and others in the deaf person’s environment are mental health risk factors. Spending quality time with companions may reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Be kind to yourself. Negative attitudes from deaf and hearing individuals can be a barrier to healthy social and emotional development. Take part in positive experiences with and about deaf people, which break down negative stereotypes and increases awareness.
Find a Qualified Professional
The number of accessible mental health providers and services has been increasing along with awareness of the diverse communication and identities of deaf individuals.
Technology allows for remote counseling with deaf-sensitive professionals. The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center offers national and statewide directories for mental health services for deaf people.
NDC’s Mental Health Services tip sheet offers several considerations for providing effective counseling services:
- Direct and effortless communication between the deaf person and practitioner.
- Practitioner’s cultural competency (i.e. understanding of deaf experiences in a hearing world, communication preferences and deaf culture).
- Effective and appropriate means of mental health assessments.
- The importance of accurate and qualified interpretation between ASL and English in mental health settings.
The National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD) offers several resources and strategies to locate crisis services, community resources and deaf-accessible hotlines:
- Crisis Line for VideoPhone users who use American Sign Language (available 24/7): 321-800-3323 (321-800-DEAF)
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: To chat online with a counselor (2pm-2am Monday-Friday Eastern Standard Time) TTY Hotline: 800-799-4889
- Crisis text line: text START to 741-741 (free, available 24/7, sometimes have Deaf counselors available)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline:
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- TTY: 1-800-787-3224 (24/7 hotline)
- VP: 1-855-812-1001 (Monday to Friday 9AM—5PM Pacific Standard Time
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Project is building a welcoming network for Deaf-to-Deaf peer support and training. We also find hearing friends and allies in mental health programs and support for recovery from traumatic experience.
Deaf individuals tell their recovery stories through 10-15 minute videos. All 7 share about being diagnosed with a mental illness and their journey to satisfying, complex lives. They are open about the dark days and their hope. All presented in In their native language – American Sign Language with captions in English. We present them here in the hope of educating and inspiring others and creating community.
What is Peer Support?
Presentation developed and presented by Marnie Forgere, Deaf and Hard of Hearing project coordinator
How to Communicate
Tip Sheet #1 “Communicating with Deaf and Hard of Hearing”
Tip Sheet #2 “How to use American Sign Language Interpreter”
Tip Sheet #3 “How to get a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Person’s Attention”
Tip Sheet #4 “Helpful tips about Language Use”
“How to be Deaf-friendly with or without Interpreters” Guide for Hearing
BEING SEEN !
Establishing Deaf to Deaf Peer Support Services and Training
Successes and Lessons Learned From the Massachusetts Experience
Button Art by Rachel Klein & Diane Squires
Prepared by: Deborah Delman, Marnie Fougere, and Meighan Haupt
In collaboration with the Deaf Community Voice Team with The Transformation Center: Val Ennis, Marco Gonzalez, Lori Johnstone, Mary O’Shea, Taimin Rosado, Sharon Sacks, Minh Vo
With special appreciation to allies Justine Barros, Cathy Mylotte, Lucille Traina, Robert Walker and
Links and Resources
“Minnesota’s CPSS Training in Massachusetts” (PDF) 2016 MassPRA Conference presentation
“What Do Peer Specialists Do?” Minnesota
MCDHH (MA Commission for tech Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
Deaf-Hope.org Founded by Deaf women in California “Our mission at DeafHope is to end domestic and sexual violence in Deaf communities through empowerment, education and services.”
Deaf YES Center at UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA
12-Step online for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Sounds of Sobriety (SOS): This online email group was formed to help us who have a hearing loss (deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing) to find a place to recover from alcoholism. For many of us, face-to-face AA meetings no longer work. All members of AA, or those who think they may have a problem with alcohol, are welcome. SOS_online_groupemail@example.com
Deaf Grateful: This is a real-time open discussion meeting on Saturday at 4 pm (EST) for deaf & HOH people who have a desire to stop drinking. Meeting uses videoconferencing software (easily downloaded) that requires a high speed internet connection and a webcam. Our communication mode is ASL only (no audio).