Subject Area

Counseling, Psychology, Rehabilitation Counseling, Social Work


This exploratory study describes the demographic profiles of 7,474 deaf adults who are consumers of public behavioral health services in the state of Maryland. Up until recent years, data about deaf consumers were unavailable to researchers. Over the past two years, additional items were added to the Outcome Measurement Systems interview, such as “primary language” and boxes where providers could record “deaf.” The data presented in this paper are for deaf adults who received services from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2018. The results of this study indicate that: 1) most deaf consumers lived in private residences, 2) consumers felt somewhat confident in their recovery goals, 3) they had moderate difficulty dealing with psychiatric symptoms, 4) almost half were diagnosed with mood disorders, 5) nearly a quarter were diagnosed with substance use disorders, of which three-quarters were addicted to opioids, 6) 13.2% were diagnosed with anxiety disorders, 8) 17.5% were employed, 9) six percent had been arrested or incarcerated, and 10) over half smoked cigarettes and 85% of those smoked one to 20 cigarettes per day. Deaf adults were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders, and behavioral disorders with onset in childhood or adolescents. They were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with disorders associated with substance use, schizophrenia spectrum disorder, and mood disorders. The discussion includes comparisons with hearing counterparts, strengths and limitations of the design, and implications for future practice, research, and policy-making.