Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



The limited research done on the Deaf community depicts inflated rates of mental illness and trauma compared to the general population. However, overall, members of the Deaf community are less likely to seek help due to perceived barriers in obtaining adequate mental healthcare. This study aimed to investigate the modern-day American Deaf community’s rates of mental illness and traumatic events and experiences with behavioral and mental healthcare systems. Barriers related to seeking treatment as well as receiving adequate care are explored as well. It was hypothesized that the Deaf community still faces an increased likelihood of trauma and mental illness as well a reluctance to seek treatment. To examine this, an online survey was distributed to a group of Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals in Kentucky and neighboring communities in Tennessee. Though the results showed that 42% of participants experienced a traumatic event, only 32% of those participants sought treatment services for their trauma. Furthermore, participants indicated they were significantly more willing to visit a Deaf therapist or a hearing therapist who is ASL-competent compared to a hearing therapist. The most commonly cited barriers to seeking service or receiving quality treatment largely centered around communication issues and/or a lack of knowledge of available services. These results suggest an increased need for therapists with ASL knowledge as well as better outreach and inclusivity efforts by the behavioral healthcare system as a whole.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Christopher Peters, Ph.D.


Counseling | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Psychology