About 1 in 1000 children and adolescents are deaf or hard of hearing. It has been hypothesized that they have a higher burden of mental health problems.
The studies done so far indicate that the prevalence of mental health problems is 2-3 times higher than among their hearing peers, ranging from 20 to 50%. However, the data basis on which these estimations rely is far from clear.
Four factors seem to impact significantly on mental health in this group: communicative problems, additional disability, low IQ and abuse/physical discipline. Several other factors such as having only one parent and no siblings and low educational level of the parents are assumed to represent risks. Some studies show that gender and choice of school may also be important factors. Adolescents have more (and different) problems than children.
The most commonly occurring mental health problems are affective problems, peer problems/social problems, behavioral problems and autism. Future studies of prevalence should collect data not only from parents and teachers, but also from the hearing impaired children and adolescents themselves, a multi-informant approach. The mental health services for hearing impaired and deaf have multiple challenges, and need to be further developed to reach acceptable quality and accessibility.