Child mental health and deafness

  • Rob Walker
    Rob Walker MBChB MRCP MRCPsych is Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with the National Deaf Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (NDCAMHS) and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust Walsall, West Midlands, UK. Conflicts of interest: none
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      Mental health problems are more common in deaf children. Increased risk factors can be understood using a biopsychosocial model of mental health. Biological risk factors are more common in acquired deafness and perhaps some syndromes. These need to be identified and treated. The cultural model of deafness can be used to understand and manage many psychosocial issues and to prevent future mental health problems. Support for parents and early communication strategies are crucial. A comprehensive mental health assessment needs to incorporate the medical and cultural model of deafness and adaptations in the assessment process will need to be made. Further research is needed to establish which treatment approaches are most effective and how these may need to be adapted.


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      Further reading

        • Denmark J.C.
        Deafness and mental health.
        Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London1994
        • Groce N.E.
        Everyone here spoke sign language.
        Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass1985
        • Hindley P.A.
        Child and adolescent psychiatry.
        in: Hindley P.A. Kitson N. Mental health and deafness. Whurr Publishers Ltd, London2000: 75-98
        • Marschark M.
        Psychological development of deaf children.
        Oxford University Press, Oxford1993
        • Meyer C.
        A role for total communication in 2012?.
        BATOD Magazine. March 2012;
        • Sacks O.
        Seeing voices: a journey into the world of the deaf.
        University of California Press, Berkeley1989
      1. Toriello H.V. Reardon W. Gorlin R.J. Hereditary hearing loss and its syndromes. Oxford University Press Inc, New York2004