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Mental Health Services

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency care facility.

Obtaining Mental Health Services

To receive appropriate mental health services, ask for a referral from your insurance company or social service agency to a qualified, specialized mental health professional who has experience working with Deaf or hard of hearing patients. Likewise, mental health providers should refer Deaf and hard of hearing patients to specialized providers as appropriate. When seeking mental health services that are best suited for your needs, you have the right to a mental health professional who can directly communicate with you in your native language.

Importance of Direct Communication

Direct mental health services in a patient’s native language and primary mode of communication are always preferred. Mental health professionals heavily depend on communication to make correct diagnoses and provide quality treatment. Services provided in a language other than the patient’s native language can negatively impact the quality of mental health services since differences and nuances in communication may be misunderstood and can have negative outcomes. In working with the Deaf and hard of hearing population, it is highly recommended that mental health providers use cultural and linguistic affirmative approaches, including fluency in the Deaf/hard of hearing individual’s language and cultural competency.

To see available mental health services in Maryland that have experience working with the Deaf and hard of hearing population, please see the Mental Health and Rehabilitation Services section in our directory.


In the case that Deaf and hard of hearing individuals are unable to find a provider who is fluent in their native language or that the provider is unavailable for a face-to-face meeting, telehealth may be available. Telehealth allows direct communication between a patient and provider through point-to-point videoconferencing.

To help increase direct mental health services, the Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing worked closely with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to increase the availability of mental health providers who are fluent in American Sign Language to Deaf and hard of hearing Medicaid recipients through telehealth. Previously, Deaf and hard of hearing Medicaid participants often had to travel long distances to originating sites (such as designated doctor’s offices and health facilities) to use telehealth services with a culturally competent provider fluent in American Sign Language. Medicaid also only reimbursed psychiatrists for telehealth services despite the fact that there are no psychiatrists in the state of Maryland who know ASL.

Under COMAR 10.09.49 Telehealth Services, changes were proposed and later adopted in 2016 . Maryland is now the first state where Medicaid specifically permits and reimburses qualified providers such as psychologists and social workers who are fluent in ASL for clinically appropriate telehealth services with Deaf and hard of hearing Medicaid participants. The changes also allow Deaf and hard of hearing participants to use videophones, in an effort to prevent traveling to a specific originating site location.

Providers fluent in American Sign Language who provide telehealth services to Deaf and hard of hearing Medicaid recipients can register through as a distant site provider to engage in telehealth using videophones.

Use of Qualified Interpreters

In situations where direct mental health services are unavailable or because of the patient’s preference, it is important for the clinician to provide a qualified interpreter, who has the appropriate credentials and certifications. Mental health interpreters are a critical component in the delivery of mental health services, since the quality of interpreting has a substantial and direct impact on the outcome of services. To avoid adverse outcomes and to ensure accurate interpreting, interpreters should have specialized mental health interpreting expertise and previous training in mental health interpreting. Mental health services that utilize sign language interpreters instead of direct communication often require the presence of a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI), especially when a minor is involved.

Mental Health & Rehabilitation Services directory

Please refer to this listing in our directory: Providers who are deaf and/or fluent in American Sign Language are denoted with a * after their name.

Crisis Services directory

Please refer to this listing in our directory: