Expanding Telemental Health

Arundel Lodge is proud to announce that its Telemental Health Program is now available to Deaf and hard of hearing individuals (HOH) across the state of Maryland. Arundel Lodge has been providing telemental health services for Deaf and HOH individuals on the eastern shore of Maryland for the past five years with financial support from Midshore Behavioral Health. Deaf and HOH individuals have been able to go to a partner agency, and through a video conferencing system engage with a therapist, fluent in American Sign Language, who is located at our main campus in Edgewater. Currently, there are six sites for clinic-based telemental health services in Easton, Chestertown, Cambridge, and Salisbury.

Thanks to a grant from the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF), therapy services for Deaf and HOH individuals are now available from the convenience of a home computer, personal laptop, smart phone device or tablet.

Although access to mental health care can be challenging for many, people who are deaf/HOH, especially those living in rural areas, face additional barriers:

  • The inability of hearing providers to communicate with their Deaf/HOH patients
  • Poor interpretation or lack of qualified interpreters
  • Limited English language skills by Deaf/HOH patients which prevent adequate discussion of symptoms
  • Lack of culturally competent providers who are familiar with Deaf culture and are fluent in American Sign Language
  • Lack of specifically-targeted services for Deaf/HOH individuals

Deaf or HOH individuals with a mental illness require specialty care from providers who are culturally and linguistically competent and who have the training and credentials needed to provide mental health and psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of such providers, making our partnership with MAERDAF especially important.

Telemental health services are particularly suited for treatment of Deaf and HOH individuals since the visually-oriented technology is often already familiar through the personal use of videophone, video relay services, video remote interpreting, and other visual technology and social media applications like Skype. Signed communication and nonverbal context cues, such as body language and physical expressiveness can be conveyed through video technology. Arundel Lodge’s home-based telemental health therapy uses real-time video to allow individuals to communicate directly to their provider from any location. The video platform complies with federal regulations for privacy.