Mental Health and Self-Advocacy

As we discussed in the previous mental health blog post, mental health is something that affects those with and without hearing loss. However, the consequences and severity of the mental health issues can be more extreme in those with hearing loss. In this post, we will discuss the importance of self-advocacy and how it can help promote mental wellness.

Why is this?

Those with hearing loss may have difficulties communicating or expressing their needs as clearly, which can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, anger, and depression. In addition, there are challenges associated with communication that are experienced by those with hearing loss. These challenges can include:

  • Feelings of social insecurity due to use of hearing technology
  • Feeling left out if an interpreter is needed but unavailable
  • Difficulties interacting in a large group setting where the environment is not ideal[1]

If not addressed, these challenges can lead to negative mental health consequences.

So…how do we address these issues?

A big strategy to address these challenges is to advocate for yourself!

Self-advocacy is extremely important and can be the difference between a successful social outcome and one that leads to hurt feelings and negative thoughts (see flow chart below).[2]

flow chart

By being able to tell someone how you feel, you are better able to express your emotions and avoid having them build up. Expression and sharing of emotions is a way to let others know what is going on with you and can help others understand the challenges you are facing.   

While there are barriers to self-advocacy, there are ways to develop successful self-advocacy skills. Here are a few tips for successful self-advocacy:

  • Start early! Starting early allows you to gain confidence when speaking up for yourself. If you start expressing your feelings early, you are better equipped to deal with these challenging situations later in life.
  • Understand your hearing loss! It is very important to know about your own hearing loss and how it affects you and others in society. Understanding your hearing loss enables you to better communicate your accommodation needs in various situations. You can’t expect someone else to understand your hearing loss if you don’t!
  • Know what ‘fits’: Experiment with and learn about the accommodations that work best for you in various situations so that you will be better equipped to select appropriate accommodations and advocate for what environment works best for you.[3]

By gaining self-advocacy skills and using these tips, you will better be able to express yourself and relieve negative feelings that are associated with poor mental health.

Have you ever successfully advocated for yourself in a situation? Leave a comment and share your story!