Mental Health Concerns in Our Deaf Community: The Roots Grow Deep

Tree with Roots
What Exactly is Mental Health?: Mental health equals emotional well-being. It means feeling good about yourself, the people around you, your job or school, having healthy relationships, enjoying life, and being able to deal with its many challenges. Lots of things affect mental health: biology, psychology, education, politics, social structure, and religion, to name a few.

In a chapter of a book devoted to multicultural mental health, Marsella and Yamada (2000) describe how society’s long-standing and deep-rooted social injustices can hurt people’s mental health. We thought about the implications of these injustices for our Deaf community’s mental health, especially today at Gallaudet, where so many Deaf people are struggling with issues that impact their mental health. Summarized below are the authors’ main points, which we think are well worth repeating.

There can be no mental health:

Where there is powerlessness, for powerlessness breeds despair.

Where there is poverty, for poverty breeds hopelessness.

Where there is inequality, for inequality breeds anger and resentment.

Where there is racism, for racism breeds low self-esteem and self-denigration.

Where there is cultural disintegration and destruction, for cultural disintegration and destruction breed confusion and conflict.

  1. tommy d. September 28, 2006

    These are the challenges for society at this time. How we respond will define us as a people. Are we as aociety what we think we are?

  2. Rachel September 29, 2006

    Very true!

    Powerlessness/despair — Gallaudet faculty/staff/students/alumni have no real power, voting, etc. All recommendations are ignored completely.

    Poverty/hopelessness — limited job opportunties for deaf people. Deaf people go on SSI/SSDI. Limited number of promotions or tenure.

    Inequality/anger/resentment — Gallaudet (and other places)still hires more hearing faculty professors than deaf faculty professors.

    Racism/low-self-esteem/self-deingration — look at Glenn Anderson. Glenn, a black person with a PhD degree, can’t even beat Ron Stern, a white man with a MS degree.

    Cultural disintergration and destruction/confusion/conflict — look at what has been happening around you.

  3. Martha October 5, 2006

    I agree! Further, I think that professionals in the field of mental health, without an understanding of other cultures (including Deaf culture) often label interactions and events as maladaptive or just plain wrong because they are unable to see it from that perspective.

  4. Mental health October 27, 2006

    I consider that mental health at the person develops on a miscellaneous. At some it is very well developed since the birth, and at the some people comes in the course of time. And I think that it can be developed independently, the main thing that was desire!


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