Accessibility of mental health care for deaf and hard-of-hearing people: perspectives of caregivers and users

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference contribution (without a publication)Academic


Background: Deaf and hard of hearing (DHOH) people have an increased risk of serious mental health problems. Concurrently, they experience major barriers accessing mental health care. Deaf stigma, i.e., the non-recognition of the target group and exclusion as a result, is a factor related to mental wellbeing and accessibility to mental health services. This study aimed to explore accessibility barriers of DHOH people in mental health care, from the perspective of care users and caregivers. Methods: Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with nine DHOH people and nine healthcare professionals. Data was analyzed using thematic analyses. Findings: The accumulation of deaf stigma during the life course contributes to self-stigmatization and psychological vulnerability and impedes entry into care. When DHOH people do seek help, they experience inadequacy of care, including difficulties in registering for treatment, and limited information facilities, interpreter availability and sensitivity to deaf culture. Although caregivers act from the intention of providing inclusive services, they experience little awareness and knowledge around perceived barriers. Insufficient education and experience in working with DHOH clients was mentioned as an important barrier in providing adequate care. Caregivers indicate that foreign good practice examples offer insight into more culturally sensitive and language-appropriate tailored care. Discussion: Structural stigma manifests itself in the gap between expectations of care users and caregivers around an inclusive mental health system. Knowledge and awareness raising of caregivers can broaden the understanding of inclusive mental health care for DHOH people and facilitate shaping of tailored care.
Period5 Sept 2023
Event title37th Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society: Health Psychology for all: Equity, Inclusiveness and Transformation
Event typeConference
Conference number37th
LocationBremen, Germany, BremenShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • deaf and hard of hearing
  • mental health care
  • structural stigma
  • self-stigma