Date of Conferral
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
The social work practice problem for this study was a lack of knowledge about social workers' experiences of working with deaf and hard of hearing people with mental illness. This study was needed to fill a practice gap by increasing an understanding of the experiences of social workers to inform best practices and address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing population through culturally and linguistically competent mental health services. The research questions focused on the experiences and challenges of social workers working with deaf and hard of hearing people and best practices identified by these social workers. Ecological systems theory was used to guide this study. Data were collected from a focus group comprising 9 social workers working with deaf and hard of hearing people with mental illness at a healthcare provider on the east coast of the United States that offered culturally and linguistically therapeutic services. Themes identified through thematic analysis of the data were cultural competence, empowerment and advocacy, professional education, and leadership to advance cultural competence. The findings of this study may be used to help healthcare providers identify key components of program design and service delivery that support culturally and linguistically competent mental health services for the population. This knowledge may also be used by social work practitioners and administrators to bring about positive social change by enhancing social work practice related to deaf and hard of hearing clients with mental illness, improving mental health outcomes, and supporting recognition of the importance of culturally and linguistically competent mental health services.