May 2021 Behavioral Health Monthly Newsletter from MNDHS

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For the full monthly wrap-up of news from the Behavioral Health Division at DHS view the entire newsletter here. To keep up to date: Subscribe to the their newsletter

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services strives to bridge gap between people, mental health services

Minnesota Department of Human Services logoMay is Mental Health Awareness month, reminding people of the importance of caring for their mental health. However, finding appropriate mental health care can be extremely difficult for some communities, including people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. Many providers are not familiar with these communities’ unique cultural and linguistic needs, or how those needs can impact the provision of services.

A recent article published in JADRA — by Dr. Jaime Wilson, a private practice neuropsychologist from Washington state, and Dr. John Gournaris, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division’s mental health program director, — explores the unique health issues facing people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing in today’s siloed approach to healthcare. It takes a person-centered approach to care that values teamwork among providers and a common goal of improving the patient’s life, defining a new term, healthcare altruism, to capture these values. You can find the full article on JADRA’s website.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) has been working to bridge this gap for Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing since 2007. A recent news story in Wisconsin compared the services available to Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing with Wisconsin’s services, highlighting the successes of DHS’s model. We currently have five mental health providers offering culturally affirmative services in American Sign Language throughout Minnesota. We also provide referrals to outside providers with fluency in American Sign Language and experience working with deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing populations.

In some cases, clients may still find it necessary or prefer to work with providers in their community or network that do not have training or experience working with deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing clients. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division offers training and resources to providers and others who work with Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. By receiving training on deaf culture and the deaf community, these providers and their staff can foster better relationships with their patients and improve their patients’ health outcomes.

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