Hearing Loss and Your Mental Health



What is mental health?

Mental health as defined by WHO is, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.[1]

Why is mental health important?

Mental health is the key to our well-being. It involves every part of our life, including how we act, think, feel, and interact with others and the world around us. Good mental health is not about avoiding your problems. It is being able to cope with difficulties and feeling capable despite challenges.

How does mental health relate to hearing loss?

Hearing loss is likely to come with challenges which can cause social, emotional, and physical stress. Some people with hearing loss express feelings of isolation, sadness, and depression when they are unable to communicate as effectively with others. When these situations occur, it is important to be aware of how you are feeling and try to understand where those feelings are coming from.

In this blog series, we will talk about several factors that can lead to negative mental health consequences and discuss how to handle these situations. The first topic we will discuss is misunderstandings.[2]



Let me set a scene for you: Say you are speaking with a classmate at school. You are chatting about your weekends and you are telling them about this great party you went to. They say something about the party and you laugh. However, a look of shock crosses their face, which confuses you. You realize from the look on their face that you have misunderstood what they said and have laughed inappropriately. They get angry and walk away. Has this or something similar to this ever happened to you?

Misunderstanding someone can come in all shapes and forms, and may result in reacting inappropriately (as in the situation above), misunderstanding words, or not responding at all. 2 They can lead to social awkwardness, frustration, and if not handled correctly, can negatively impact one’s overall emotional well-being[3]. While misunderstandings can be embarrassing and stressful, it is important to remember that they can happen to anyone, hearing or not!

The important thing is to know how to handle stress when the situation arises.

First of all, if the person you are communicating with gets angry or frustrated, apologize and explain that you misunderstood what they said. The word, ‘sorry’ immediately diffuses situations and can help to calm down the person you are speaking with[4].

Secondly, explain what happened.  Using the above scenario, one of the things you can say is: “I might have misheard you” Being genuine in your explanation and being open to talking about how you communicate best can help the other person better understand what exactly happened. It can also prevent them from jumping to conclusions about the situation.

Thirdly, educate! Educate the person that you are speaking with about how you communicate.  For example, “If I said something off topic, then it may indicate I misheard what was said in the conversation”. Chances are they do not understand other communication methods very well. Most people are willing to learn more about you and help make communication more comfortable for you. The more they understand about your communication style, the less they will jump to anger or frustration when there is a misunderstanding.

Have you ever had a situation that has led to a misunderstanding? How did you handle the situation? Share below!

[1] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs220/en/

[2] http://mastersinpsychologyguide.com/articles/psychological-affects-hearing-loss-teens

[3] http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/17/1/54

[4] http://career-intelligence.com/conflict-workplace/