New Mental Health Position Statement Released

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) publishes a new Mental Health Position Statement to address the need for state governments to create state level mental health coordinators to ensure the availability of appropriate mental health services for deaf and hard of hearing people. The Mental Health Expert Group, chaired by John Gournaris, developed the Statement in response to a 2012 conference priority. This Statement was approved by the NAD Board of Directors in April of 2013. It was with Gournaris’ leadership that this conference priority was completed in less than half of the time allotted by the conference priority.

The Position Statement affirms that State governments must create a culturally affirmative mental health services delivery system for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. To begin this commitment, State governments must make a qualified state level mental health coordinator of services for deaf and hard of hearing people available. In the Mental Health Position Statements developed in 2003 and 2008, the NAD recognized the need to develop a statewide continuum of mental health services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in order provide appropriate services. To help effectuate the necessary changes to current mental health systems, the NAD identifies a pressing need for state level mental health coordinators to champion the required changes to provide culturally affirmative mental health services.

Currently, there are nine known existing state level mental health coordinator positions around the country:

1. Alabama
2. Georgia
3. Illinois
4. Kentucky
5. Massachusetts
6. Minnesota
7. Missouri
8. North Carolina
9. South Carolina

The NAD does not make any claims that the state programs above are superior to any other program. Each state program was developed in response to the unique demands and limitations of their respective states and thus may look different from the others. But these states can offer ideas for promising practices, perspectives, or concepts that many other states could borrow from to develop a statewide mental health delivery system to best serve their deaf residents.

With this Position Statement, the NAD urges all states to review their policies and practices with respect to equitable mental health services for their deaf and hard of hearing residents. The NAD asks for more states to have dedicated state level mental health coordinators in order to provide our community with the mental health services that are available to everyone else.

For more mental health position statements, please go to: