Deaf Mental Health: Enhancing Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Clinical Practice

  • Tracey A. BoneEmail author
Part of the Advances in Mental Health and Addiction book series (AMHA)


This chapter will focus on the factors that contribute to the health inequities of a unique, liminal community, namely the Deaf community. Defined as a minority community, both by language and by culture, members of this community experience health inequities differently from other minority communities. Research indicates that Deaf people find it more difficult to establish relationships with health and allied professionals, and to access mental health services because of discrimination, lack of understanding, and practical obstacles experienced within the health system. It is further reported that 80–90% of Deaf and hard of hearing people with severe and persistent mental illness are not accessing mental health services. The literature suggests a higher prevalence of mental health problems for those who are culturally Deaf than in the general population. The most common factor preventing access to services, including assessment, intervention, and follow-up, as well as to mental health prevention materials is inadequate communication. This chapter will explore how a unique form of oppression that relates to the oppression by hearing people of those who are deaf (i.e., audism, the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears), results in health and mental health care disparities. The chapter will conclude with a discussion on recommended practices to facilitate effective engagement with members of this minority culture.


Deaf mental health Audism Therapeutic alliance Barriers to access 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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