Mental Health Crisis In Deaf Community (World Mental Health Day) | Rikki Poynter

This video brought to you
by my Patreon pledges. Help create content
by pledging today. Hello. Did you know that
medical studies found that deaf people suffer from mental health issues
at about twice the rate of the general or abled population, that a deaf child with
communication barriers are four times more likely
to be affected by mental health disorders, that 41% said that they believe
communication barriers, family stresses, and ableism/audism
could cause or contribute to suicidal depression, substance abuse
or violent behavior, that a study involving 54 deaf individuals,
more than half said that they hadn’t been able to find
mental health services that they could use, that the struggles of ordinary therapy
include lip-reading during serious situations, finding that ASL-using therapists
are almost non-existent, and that offices won’t pay
for an interpreter, and instead will make you pay for it, and that because of this, psychiatric conditions like mood disorders
are often under-diagnosed because of the
communication barrier? Hi, my name is Rikki Poynter
and I am not a mentally well person. I have a pretty decent to strong
case of depression, and it’s something that, while I have talked about a little more
here and there on YouTube, it was very hard for me
to get professional help for it, because of the fact that therapy
is so inaccessible to Deaf and hard-of-hearing people,
like me. So, about a year or so ago,
I was finally fed up with it and I wanted to look around the internet
and try to find a therapist that would hopefully work for me. Keep in mind that I struggle with
being fluent in English but I can’t understand other people’s
spoken English most of the time, because I can’t hear very well. And while I have a little bit of ASL
under my belt, I am not fluent, and also, the conversations that I have
in ASL aren’t really about depression or other mental health, so it’s kind of difficult for me
to talk about that in such a serious manner in
a second language. But that didn’t stop me
from trying to find someone that would help me either way. So I was Googling therapists
in the general area of Charlotte, whatnot. I found one therapist
that was fluent in ASL, all the way at Asheville and it was kind of expensive
and also, well, she never emailed me back so I have no idea what’s going on there. I emailed to find out prices or whatever. I think that there was a bit of a ballpark
guesstimate on the website, but it wasn’t official. It wasn’t confirmed so I wanted to find out,
but I never got an email back, and I can’t remember what else
I emailed about. Only ASL using therapist around for miles. I even went state-wide
and I could not really find so many and if I did,
they were on the other side. I’m not driving five hours
for a therapist appointment. That’s absolutely bizarre. So then, I started emailing
all the other local therapists that I could find, asking them about if they would do
written communication with me and also, if they did not have
anyone that did sign, would they be providing an interpreter? Those that did respond to me told me
that I would have to pay for the interpreter and paying for an interpreter
would likely be more expensive than the actual therapy appointment itself. It’s not worth it. One, I can’t afford that, simply. And two, it’s just way too expensive. And then, when I would respond back
about written communication, I would not get a response
and anyone that I did ask that to, I just never got a reply in general. So yeah, communication barriers,
inaccessibility is by far what made me not be able to get therapy. There’s also the cost factor. Deaf people, disabled people in general, we make some of the
smallest amount of money, if you look it up. I do not make a whole lot of money. In fact, I just totaled up my income
for this specific month, as of right now, and I have made, so far,
$694 after taxes, and a good portion of that
is already being taken out, at least half, for bills, already. If I were to pay for regular therapy, that would definitely
cut into my finances. And so, I was trying to see if there were
any options that were text based, or that I could do online because in-person
just wasn’t gonna happen. And I did end up finding BetterHelp,
who is the sponsor of today’s video. Now don’t click away yet,
because I will get personal about this, but until then… BetterHelp is a worldwide available app
as well as a website with licensed therapists
who are certified by the state board to provide counseling and therapy. The reason I find this can be
more accessible to me as a Deaf person, is due to the fact that I can use
my computer, iPad and/or phone to get my appointments done
via text and instant message. And if you’re hearing, you can do
a phone call or even a video call if your therapist knows sign language, just a note for the
other Deaf people out there. The service is $65 a week and when you sign up, you’ll give them
information about yourself, what you’re looking for
in terms of therapists, what you want therapy for, and you’ll be matched with a counselor
within 24 hours. And if you like group activities
rather than just kicking it solo all the time, BetterHelp has weekly
groupinar sessions where you can learn about topics like
relationships, anxiety, etc, from the counselors. Of course, BetterHelp
is not a crisis line and if you find yourself in
the middle of a crisis, there are resources
for that out there, one of which I’ll link to
in the description box. So I am no stranger to BetterHelp
before this video. I was talking about how I was using them. I believe I did a video about them
earlier this year and then, I was also using them
about a year prior, I believe, used it for a little bit, quit, ’cause I wasn’t really
clicking with my therapist. Then I found another therapist and this therapist,
I did click better with and one of the reasons
I really did like BetterHelp was because I was able
to do instant message. With my first therapist,
I did regular instant message, where we were both just typing but with my most recent therapist,
we were doing phone calls and how that would work is,
I would talk into the phone like your average Joe, and she would type back in the little chat box,
message box thing. That’s called an inbox, Rikki,
it’s not that difficult. (LAUGHS) And yeah, that was by far
the most accessible. I did not have an ASL friendly therapist but she was more than willing
to type out for me. As you may or may not know,
I did grow up with a lot of child abuse, and not only having to deal with that,
but I had to deal with body image issues. I have an issue –
a really bad relationship with food. And then, there’s also the struggle of
being the ‘in the middle’ type of Deaf person, which I had not ever
really been able to cover yet, because well, when your
own therapist isn’t deaf or doesn’t have any other disabilities, it is a little difficult
to really connect on that front. But she did understand body image issues
and a tough relationship with food. So, I was finally able to just
finally talk about it. Yes, I’ve talked about it on YouTube,
but it’s more like a one-way street, I guess, type of thing. You know, I’ll say something
and you all will leave comments, which is really nice, but one, audiences are not therapists
(LAUGHS) and it’s not really going to be
the solution to anyone’s problems. So just being able to talk it out, also, with somebody who’s not supposed
to judge you and is very neutral is just phenomenal. That is what was missing from my life,
because I had to keep it in. Even though I was writing
in a journal sometimes or just writing it out into the void
on paper or in a Google Doc. It was helping at least,
get some emotions out there, but it was still being kept to myself. So it wasn’t really helping
my mental health. I was still getting more and more
depressed and the depression flare-ups,
the anxiety flare-ups, were just going
higher and higher and it really sucked that I wasn’t able to
talk to someone about it. So I’m really glad that
there’s an app like this – BetterHelp, that is able to help Deaf people,
other disabled people who might have other issues, like, it’s difficult for some disabled people
to be able to get anywhere because transportation might be lacking. So, to be able to have a session online
is extraordinary. And I think that’s important
to keep in mind. While people may have criticisms
of how one system is, you have to think about the other people. If we didn’t have this sort of system,
we’d be way worse off than we are now. One thing to note is that what may be
accessible to one person may not be completely accessible
to others. So for example, someone who is
more fluent in ASL, they might need something else, but this provides
way more options than zero and I can appreciate that. Mental health is a serious matter,
it is extremely serious in the Deaf community, where it really doesn’t get talked about. I feel like it’s just kinda
pushed under the rug, I feel like some communities just think of
mental illness, depression, anxiety, etc, etc as something to be ashamed about and as long as we don’t talk about it,
it’s not going to do any harm, right? But in fact, that does the exact opposite. So being able to talk about this
is extremely important, bringing to light
the seriousness of this. So what I hope to see going forward
is that this conversation, this video, makes more conversation happen, which then, makes therapy
become more accessible, no matter what
kind of system it is, in person or online,
through an app or website. To my fellow Deaf and disabled friends, whether you’re Deaf
or you have some other disability, I would love to know
your experiences with therapy. Have you been able to find
accessible therapy in-person, or do you use a more online,
app or website to get your therapy sessions in? No matter what your stories are,
leave them in the comments down below. I would really appreciate it. And a huge thank you to BetterHelp
for sponsoring this video. I also appreciate that very, very much. If you would like to help
translate this video, I will have a translation link
down below in the description box, always a huge help. Thank you for taking the time
out of your day to watch this video, give it a share, a like, and I will see you later.


  1. Hi all! If you feel like you might've missed out on any other mental health related content, be sure to check out my mental health playlist: Check out the info box for some books on the subject matter. Also, consider pledging on Patreon!

  2. I didnt know mental health disoders were higher in the deaf community hope your mental health gets better love you rikki

  3. Thank you so much for making this video. I wonder if codas (I think that’s the term for family members of Deaf people) were aware of the necessity of ASL fluent mental health providers if maybe there would be more interest in perusing this career path. I’m going to share this with a couple of FB groups I belong to, DHOH groups and specifically parents of DHOH kids. I am hoh and I have one kid who is hoh and one who is deaf.

  4. Thank you!! I did not know that exist! Now I know who to turn to for help. I always struggled with depression and all that. Beats nothing! <3

  5. I was searching for this if there exists the reason affecting with people from HOD. Finally you made it! People with disability ( listening is hard because the listener needs to give the response after receiving ). Saying yes and okay are common excuses to move on after not understanding the point of conversation so that person won't be treated as neglected. Conversation is only key to maintain emotionally and mentally.

  6. Great tip. Will look the app up. Appreciate the awareness for us “middle of the road” deafies.

  7. I’m glad you mentioned about the “in the middle” type of deaf. I’m really tired & feel so isolated from deaf & hearing communities because I can hear some/talk, so I’m never deaf enough but in the hearing world I don’t belong either. Just tired of feeling like I can’t identify as Deaf because of what others say. I hope therapy would help me with this too.

  8. Wow this sucks… I only have a reduced hearing and it did make my life much harder, gave me depressed for many years, can’t imagine how much worse it would have been with little to no hearing at all… I love your resilience, keep doing your best, one day it will be enough! 🤗✨

  9. Betterhelp has been known to scam people and many of its "trained therapists" are not credentialed. Try looking up the scandal a few months back. It wasn't pretty. I know you need the money (and betterhelp gives you a LOT of $$ for referrals,) but it's such an unethical company to advertise. I never thought I'd see you put in a plug for them, especially after all that nasty stuff came out. I'm sure it helps some people, but there are videos showing that most of their reviews are fake or are paid reviews like yours. Betterhelp is risky at best.

  10. Machines first replaced people in repetitive jobs. Then they replaced people in low-wage jobs. I think the next step should be therapists. Imagine having a computer as a therapist:
    – it does not judge;
    – it does not get emotional;
    – it can learn any and all languages, including LSQ and elvish Sindarin, and a language can be learned overnight by the daily update;
    – it always finds the optimal treatment.

    PS: LSQ: Langue des signes du Québec, which means Quebec Sign Language.

  11. I'm high functioning autistic and I always had trouble with therapy as a child because it was difficult for me too understand what I was feeling and why and I also had no idea what people where thinking and feeling most of the time. What didn't help was that I didn't know I was autistic. As a result, whenever I would get anxious about a an event such as the first day of school or long trips for example (which was one of my triggers) I would just get really sick. My parents switched me to a therapist that specialized in helping children on the spectrum and it really made a difference. I had a councellor who was very kind and talked to me about things that I had an interest in, she made me feel like I could be myself. She also had ways of explaining things in a way that I would understand and helped me learn the importance of communication as well as helped me figure out what I was feeling, why and communicate it with my parents teachers ect… as well as figuring out ehat others where thinking/feeling. She would pop in for visits at school and at home and communicate things with my parents teachers ect that I wasn't aware where a problem. For example, she was able to identify when I was being bullied when I couldn't and she was able to tell me what was expected of me when I had to work in group projects ect… So although I'm not part of the blind or deaf community, I know how much more difficult it can be to communicate in therapy (which is what is demanded more than anything in therapy) when you have a dissability but I am also proof that the right therapist can make all the difference in world. I am 24 years old today and I will never forget that councellor and yes I was a bit embarrassed about her coming to observe me in class because of stigma, but I still remember her name and what a positive difference she made in my life.

  12. That's cool that it can help people with mobility issues too! Come to think of it, online platforms like this could help disabled therapists get work, if they don't have suitable transportation to work in an office.

  13. Wow, thank you for creating and posting this video.

  14. This is very important. Thank you for talking about it.

  15. Below $10k a year is way below poverty wage. I understand how it feels cause I was there too..being deaf myself I do struggle with isolation a lot and have a hard time creating social networks. I tend to enjoy being in my own deaf world if that makes the way the color of your nails look great !!

  16. I've been trying to find options to get into therapy after having a really bad experience with… pseudo-conversion therapy years ago* (long explanation below). Seeing that they have options for you to say you're most comfortable with therapists of similar identities to you makes me feel like maybe there's options for me. I'm trying to wade through a bunch of waitlists for free local therapy right now but I might look into this once I've got less of a fixed income.

    I also really appreciate you talking about these things openly. You shouldn't have to ofc but it makes it easier for the rest of us to talk about. I haven't talked with my birth-giver (or most of my biofam) since I was 19 and it's hard to feel like there are other people in these kinds of situations. It's really alienating and it feels like most people who have estranged family just pretend like everything is fine. I mean, I'm better off, for sure, but there's still a big part of me that feels like I was cheated out of a real parent.

    *it was state-mandated "gender therapy" before I was allowed to go on hormones – they told me they'd give me a hormone referral after a couple months but I was in there for 2 years before the law changed. I don't think it counts as full-on conversion therapy because they weren't trying to change me, so much as convince me that I needed to be Really Truly Suffering in order to rationalize going on hormones, which is kind of just gaslighting someone into thinking they aren't Trans Enough. I might have eventually been able to jump through those hoops but it wasn't worth it and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.

  17. It's hard to find therapy for mental health in Sweden too. Especially if you are house bound and not deaf (enough) by a hearing test curve. They don't see the total need of Swedish Sign Language, only go by hearing test curve. Political nonsense, to exclude people who rely on sign language as only accessible communication just because of Decibel limits… This is where there actually are a team for deaf people's mental health, in the capital (possibly a few other places too). Everywhere else seems like there isn't many options at all. There is a helpline for deaf kids and youth, though.

  18. There's one in Ann Arbor Michigan. She's A Deaf Therapist

  19. Dr. Mel Whalen

  20. I personally am active on 7cups alot.

  21. able-bodied mentally ill neurodivergent person here
    i`ve faced the situation where therapists would only talk to me in person or thru skype and not through texting which was inaccessible for me at that time
    their argument was that it would be "ineffective" which absolutely infuriates me.
    communication comes in many forms and the assumption that without eye contact, seeing and hearing each other there can be no therapeutic process is so horribly ableist
    i think that if a therapist can`t make it work in the situation where the only information they get from a person is in the form of text they`re just inderqualified.
    disabled people face communication barriers every day and are expected to overcome everything but some therapists just don`t bother to adapt

  22. Since the magnificent miss Poynter conveniently forgot to add the translationlink to her description, I'll be so kind to add it as a comment.
    I'm such a nice person 😛

  23. Amen! 🙂

  24. Thank you for bringing awareness to this problem!
    My campus is in the middle of nowhere geographically, and the on-campus services are lacking. You can only make appointments over the phone or by walking over to their office during a specific timeframe, neither of which is possible for me with me being hoh and physically disabled. When I spoke to a university employee (relatively high up in the system, too!) about how dangerous the lack of access was, she told me that they just "Weren't equipped for people like you," so I was on my own. It's nice to find others having similar experiences to me, not in the "yay we're Struggling" way, but rather "Thank goodness I'm not alone" way.

  25. the dearth of accessible therapists for the deaf community is exactly why i’m working to become fluent in ASL along with getting a degree in clinical psychology, the lack of resources is awful and i want to help fill that gap

  26. I am Deaf. Maybe it would be good for you to consider a new video of things hearing family must teach to Deaf children or adults as equal to the hearing people. But mostly Deaf children or adults are behind rather than hearing because they think hearing people are more clever at understanding things than Deaf people as it depends on their culture. But it also affect on Deaf people mental health because of lack of understanding and being isolated.

  27. thanks for making a video about this. I've been interested in going to the field to be a counselor or therapist and knowing that accessibility is an issue in the field will help me recognize more about what I need to be able to make sure that my services WOULD be accessible if I go into the field or something similar.

  28. i finally found a psychologist who was….an idiot. didn’t really connect with me. had never heard of ableism- she even pronounced it wrong. called be specially abled. told me to forgive my long list of abusers and people who had greatly tortured, harassed and humiliated me- mostly related to my disability. and i didn’t feel like paying a shit ton of money to another one. but one thing that’s helped is finding a whole community of disabled people on twitter sharing our experiences and feeling validated. it’s such a good feeling after just being alone and not understood for a long long time.

  29. My college offered counseling (kinda therapy but not really), and I felt like I didn’t really click with my counselor. Stopped seeing her after a session where she redirected the conversation from what I wanted to talk about and I shut down completely and didn’t feel comfortable talking anymore. She did know sign language and would use it with me which was nice.

  30. Spooks

  31. Thank you very much for sharing. Therapy has definitely helped me tremendously, and I'm happy to hear about an app that helps make it a bit more accessible to fellow disabled people <3 I'm disabled too, but not Deaf (and I'm discovering the term "audism" in this video btw, making note of this specific term!). Sometimes it's difficult to go therapy appointments because of chronic pain and fatigue, but anything involving screens is not always more accessible for me because I get bad headaches/migraines if I use screens too much, and sometimes typing hurts too 😅 It's a lot to juggle! And I feel you on the financiary aspect: being disabled can take a toll on our mental health big time (be it because ableism is tough or because for instance chronic pain is often linked to depression, or.. both), but we're very often struggling financially, so affording therapy is definitely not a given.

  32. I wonder if there have been any studies done on the rates of mental health/depression/etc. in queer deaf people compared to the deaf community at large. It's known that queer people in general have worse mental health than people in general, and deaf people like you said, so I wonder if that intersection makes it worse?

  33. I don't need an interpreter, but I have been seeing a therapist for the last few months and I still feel like they don't quite understand how my Deafness and growing up mainstreamed as impacted nearly everything in my life and has led to me having huge communication issues with my spouse. Deaf people need Deaf therapists!

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