National survey data analysing the barriers and gaps hearing health professionals and Deaf and hard of hearing young people and their families face when trying to access mental health services.

Mrs Nicole Davolio1, Judi Krause1, Narelle Anger1, Sophie Morson1

 1Child And Youth Mental Health Service, Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service., South Brisbane, Australia



Provide overview of the barriers in accessing timely mental health care support for Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) young people and their families including the difficulties faced by hearing health care professionals and mental health care professionals. Specific focus on importance of collaborative and integrated care to support the mental health of young DHH and their families.

Scope of topic

Approximately one in seven young Australians experience a mental health condition. DHH young people and their families are more at risk with up to 40% of DHH experiencing mental health conditions. Data collected through CYMHS Deafness and Mental health project revealed that hearing health professionals and DHH young people and their families identify isolation, communication difficulties and anxiety as major mental health concerns. In addition, ease of accessibility of services was rated as very difficult.


Data was collected through two national cross-sectional surveys between November and February 2018. Surveys were available in Auslan and English. The first population surveyed included 147 professionals and the second population surveyed included 111 DHH young people and carers. Analysis of results was completed using descriptive statistics, unidentified individual response and text analysis to identify key themes. Practical implications and limitations will be discussed.


DHH young people, their families and professionals working with them face significant barriers such as a lack of referral pathways, systemic issues and difficulty in accessing culturally responsive mental health services. Mental health services are not well prepared to support deafness and hearing health professionals working with DHH do not have the knowledge to identify symptoms and need for referral to services. The findings highlight the need for an integrated and collaborative approach. Mental health and wellbeing of DHH and their families should be a key component in service design, provision and evaluation.


Sophie Morson

Sophie is a Psychologist with nearly two decades experience in child and youth mental health service delivery. During this time she has held a number of roles, including a community clinician, project manager and most recently Team Leader. She currently manages a team aimed at enhancing community capacity and the delivery of recovery-oriented care across a number of specialist areas. Since August 2017 this has included an innovative program aimed at supporting the early detection and collaborative care of mental health problems amongst infants, children and young people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Judi Krause

Divisional Director – Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS)

Judi is a credentialed mental health nurse with a broad range of experience in general, midwifery and mental health. She has worked across a range of settings including rural, regional and metropolitan, in both hospital and community teams and in mental health education and corporate senior project roles. Judi has diverse management experience spanning adult, indigenous, child and youth and community mental health teams. She has worked within the CHQ CYMHS service in a range of senior leadership roles for the past fifteen years.

Judi has a Masters in community mental health and further post graduate qualifications in family therapy and health management. Her areas of particular interest include eating disorders and family based interventions, the impact of trauma and attachment on young people and CYMHS integrated service development and sector leadership. Judi is also a staunch advocate for young people within the child protection and youth forensic systems to have equitable access to specialist mental health care.