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Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Persons who are Deaf
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This report on meeting the mental health needs of persons who are deaf is the latest publication in the National Technical Assistance Center for State Mental Health Planning’s (NTAC’s) Cultural Diversity Series, which explores the mental health needs of an increasingly diverse nation. This report makes it clear that policymakers, planners, providers, and practitioners must work closely with members of the Deaf Community to fashion programs and strategies that meet their needs and that demonstrate a responsiveness to the issues of the Deaf Culture. (Following the convention suggested by Padden and Humphries (1988), I use the lower-case term “deaf” when referring to noncultural matters, such as the audiological condition of deafness, and the uppercase “Deaf” when referring to cultural matters, such as “Deaf Culture” and “Deaf Community.”)

Until relatively recently, people who are deaf with mental illness have been a silent minority, despite the fact that they experience mental disorders at the same, or in some cases a greater, rate than the general public. It is thus important for public mental health systems to recognize fully the presence and needs of consumers who are deaf and to provide services and supports that meet their needs.

Each report in NTAC’s Cultural Diversity Series provides a synopsis of a particular population’s mental health needs, relevant cultural characteristics and traditions, perceptions about mental illness, and preferences for services and supports. Each report also describes several mental health programs that have successfully tailored their services to the needs of consumers in this population and provides a comprehensive resource section with recommended readings and organizational resources. Ultimately, the goal of the Cultural Diversity Series is to assist state mental health agencies in moving toward public mental health service delivery systems that are appropriate and accessible to all consumers. (Author)
Alexandria, VA
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services