National Association of the Deaf

Mental Health Services



Obtaining mental health services is a personal and private decision.  It can also be very challenging – and especially challenging for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

There are many reasons to seek mental health services.  Mental health care is provided by mental health services and qualified professionals.  Each professional has specific skills  For example, a psychiatrist is specially trained to administer medication to people who need it.  Professionals work directly with people and can provide counseling and therapy.  Mental health professionals are licensed by the state where they work.  All professionals have codes of ethics that require certain behavior, for example, confidentiality. 

Direct communication with a mental health care professional in your language and in a mode of communication that is accessible to you is almost always preferred.  However, the mental health care provider may need to provide the services of a qualified interpreter or have other accommodations to communicate effectively with you.  The use of appropriate accommodations is essential for accurate and sensitive communication between you and the mental health professional.

You have the right to:

  • Ask for a referral from your insurance company or social service agency to a qualified mental health professional who has experience working with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Communicate with a mental health care professional in a confidential and safe environment.
  • Communicate with a mental health care professional in the language and mode of communication that is effective for you.
  • Clearly understand the problem you have and the recommendations being made for your care.
  • Clearly understand what medication you are being asked to take, what the possible side effects are, and what the medication will do.

In 2008, the NAD approved a new position statement on Mental Health Services for Deaf Children.  The NAD also approved a supplementary position statement on Culturally Affirmative and Linguistically Accessible Mental Health Services.  The supplementary statement is intended to be an update to the 2003 Position Statement on Mental Health Services for People who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

These documents will provide guidance to state and federal agencies, consumers, state associations, and affiliates on appropriate mental health service delivery for deaf and hard of hearing children and adults.  These documents reflect current trends in the field of mental health and are a model for all states and service providers.  Service delivery for deaf and hard of hearing children poses particular challenges that are unique and different from those for adults.  It is vital that optimal mental health care for deaf and hard of hearing children.

When you believe a mental health service provider has discriminated against you because you are deaf or hard of hearing, you have the right to file a complaint.

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National Association of the Deaf | 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3819