The Learning Center for the Deaf will premiere a series of virtual panel discussions on mental health and the Deaf community.
The first session, Accessing Mental Health Services, will premiere at 12 PM EST on Thursday, June 18, on TLC’s social media pages. The webinar features three expert individuals with backgrounds in Deaf education, advocacy, counseling and family support. Discussions will center around trauma-informed care for the Deaf community.
The idea for a virtual panel began within TLC’s Walden Community Services, which offers specialized wraparound behavioral health services for deaf and hard of hearing children, adults, and their families. The global pandemic has heightened awareness for mental health resources, an area that continues to be lacking within the Deaf community.
“Mental health is a timeless topic, but we recognize that access to this type of care within the Deaf community has only caused additional frustration during the global pandemic,” said Elisa Valles, MA, LMHC, of TLC’s Walden Community Services (WCS). “We are very excited to provide meaningful leadership from Deaf-led professionals and experts in the mental health, education, clinical and advocacy fields. We anticipate this may only be the beginning of a larger response to a critical need across our country as a result of Covid-19.”
Deaf people, whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL), are often denied direct access to basic medical services because of a lack of ASL interpreters.
Families with a deaf parent or child are routinely sent away from emergency services because of lack of Interpreting.
The webinar will offer resources and guidance in receiving accessible medical care, especially trauma-informed services, and provide critical takeaways for those with a deaf family member to help navigate the behavioral health system.
Valles is one of three panelists to participate in the session. Valles is the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative/DCF Program Director for WCS. A licensed mental health counselor, Valles previously presented to the American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA) about trauma-informed care for parents in the home and is trained in the GROW curriculum.
The other confirmed panelists are: Melissa Anderson, PhD, MSCI, Director of DeafYES! Center for Deaf Empowerment, and Recovery and Brittney Granger, Clinical Director of Deaf Services at Advocates, Inc.
Anderson is a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She completed graduate school at Gallaudet University, where she studied intimate partner violence and trauma in the Deaf community. At UMass, Anderson provides counseling to Deaf clients recovering from trauma and addiction, and conducts community-engaged research on best approaches for working with Deaf clients.
Granger oversees community based services for deaf, hard of hearing, Deafblind and deaf plus adults in need of behavioral health supports, dual diagnosis, residential services, and crisis stabilization. Brittney believes that trauma informed care and a person centered approach are the keys to empowerment and intentional living.
The panel will be moderated by Sarah Glenn-Smith, CEO of The Learning Center for the Deaf. Dr. Glenn-Smith has worked as a professional in the healthcare, education, technology and nonprofit arenas for more than 20 years. She has been an RID certified sign language interpreter, CI/CT, since 2003.
Community members will be able to watch Accessing Mental Health Services in the Deaf Community on TLC’s Facebook or YouTube page. The recording will feature voiceover interpreting for communication accessibility.