The Hard of Hearing Community is Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis. What Can Be Done?

 

Even before the pandemic, those in the hard of hearing (HoH) community had a higher risk of suffering from anxiety and depression. Experts, however, were largely divided on why. Because there were multiple possible causes:

  • The abysmal employment rate facing the HoH.  Although none would admit to discriminating against a HoH job applicant, we've seen it happen more often than you might think. This causes many HoH individuals to fall into a poverty cycle, which brings many issues of its own. 
  • Discrimination against HoH people. This occurs both within the workplace and without. Hearing impairment seems to be viewed as a ‘lesser’ disability frequently, and many people don't take it seriously.
  • An inability to access medical care, including hearing assistance devices. This creates a vicious cycle. The employee cannot get better devices without employer-provided health care, often going without or making do with inadequate quality assistance devices. 
  •  


Can you imagine what it's like to be both isolated and unable to communicate? This is the reality facing many hearing impaired people.  

Of course, the pandemic certainly hasn't helped matters. Per a report published in the Journal of Community Psychology, depression and anxiety levels among deaf individuals are much higher than the general population, and they constitute a vulnerable group. 

Encouraging more HoH people to work in research and public health is imperative at this point. By supporting a hard-of-hearing student through their education and early career, a school can take great strides towards being more inclusive, receiving valuable input on the effectiveness and delivery of its curriculum. This also allows a school to shape future accessibility while seeing more HoH people display competence and career success can influence a younger generation of children to dream bigger. 

The presence of HoH people in any public-facing career is more valuable than you might think. In addition to lowering the rampant unemployment rate among the hearing impaired, more HoH individuals in the workplace helps normalize accessibility options. The employer, meanwhile, can save on consultant fees by simply speaking to their employees about what they require. 

Educating the public represents another critical factor in improving mental health for the HoH community. Misinformation and stereotypes about the hard of hearing are still far more prevalent than they should be. Though many tireless community members strongly advocate for improved access to mental healthcare and services, it can be challenging to keep up. Subtle discrimination against HoH people, meanwhile, remains a widespread problem.

This also extends to medical care, which can be frustrating and costly even if one is lucky enough to live somewhere with socialized medicine. A qualified interpreter trained in medical terminology can easily cost hundreds of dollars per session. And although many prominent hospitals and clinics may have an interpreter on staff, they're often limited to American Sign Language, leaving non-English speakers with no way to communicate. 

Mental healthcare providers, meanwhile, are seeing a surge in demand amidst COVID-19. This includes the HoH community, many of whom prefer a HoH therapist or psychologist. There's a specific perspective to hearing loss that can only be understood by experiencing it, and that perspective can be fundamental to the bond between specialist and patient.

Hearing loss doesn't pick and choose who to affect based on their socioeconomic or geographical background. The needs and desires of those with hearing loss are as varied as the community itself. And right now, that community is suffering.

 

The Hard of Hearing Community is Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis. What Can Be Done?

 

Even before the pandemic, those in the hard of hearing (HoH) community had a higher risk of suffering from anxiety and depression. Experts, however, were largely divided on why. Because there were multiple possible causes:

  • The abysmal employment rate facing the HoH.  Although none would admit to discriminating against a HoH job applicant, we've seen it happen more often than you might think. This causes many HoH individuals to fall into a poverty cycle, which brings many issues of its own. 
  • Discrimination against HoH people. This occurs both within the workplace and without. Hearing impairment seems to be viewed as a ‘lesser’ disability frequently, and many people don't take it seriously.
  • An inability to access medical care, including hearing assistance devices. This creates a vicious cycle. The employee cannot get better devices without employer-provided health care, often going without or making do with inadequate quality assistance devices. 
  •  


Can you imagine what it's like to be both isolated and unable to communicate? This is the reality facing many hearing impaired people.  

Of course, the pandemic certainly hasn't helped matters. Per a report published in the Journal of Community Psychology, depression and anxiety levels among deaf individuals are much higher than the general population, and they constitute a vulnerable group. 

Encouraging more HoH people to work in research and public health is imperative at this point. By supporting a hard-of-hearing student through their education and early career, a school can take great strides towards being more inclusive, receiving valuable input on the effectiveness and delivery of its curriculum. This also allows a school to shape future accessibility while seeing more HoH people display competence and career success can influence a younger generation of children to dream bigger. 

The presence of HoH people in any public-facing career is more valuable than you might think. In addition to lowering the rampant unemployment rate among the hearing impaired, more HoH individuals in the workplace helps normalize accessibility options. The employer, meanwhile, can save on consultant fees by simply speaking to their employees about what they require. 

Educating the public represents another critical factor in improving mental health for the HoH community. Misinformation and stereotypes about the hard of hearing are still far more prevalent than they should be. Though many tireless community members strongly advocate for improved access to mental healthcare and services, it can be challenging to keep up. Subtle discrimination against HoH people, meanwhile, remains a widespread problem.

This also extends to medical care, which can be frustrating and costly even if one is lucky enough to live somewhere with socialized medicine. A qualified interpreter trained in medical terminology can easily cost hundreds of dollars per session. And although many prominent hospitals and clinics may have an interpreter on staff, they're often limited to American Sign Language, leaving non-English speakers with no way to communicate. 

Mental healthcare providers, meanwhile, are seeing a surge in demand amidst COVID-19. This includes the HoH community, many of whom prefer a HoH therapist or psychologist. There's a specific perspective to hearing loss that can only be understood by experiencing it, and that perspective can be fundamental to the bond between specialist and patient.

Hearing loss doesn't pick and choose who to affect based on their socioeconomic or geographical background. The needs and desires of those with hearing loss are as varied as the community itself. And right now, that community is suffering.

 

  

  

  

Do you think you might be suffering from hearing loss? Call or chat today to talk with one of our Hearing Consultants:  

Call #phone#.

  

  

  


Researching Hearing Loss?

Get our free Research Guide >

Evaluate Your Lifestyle

Go to the Questionnaire >

Ready for an Appointment?

Schedule Appointment >