International Conference on Mental Health for Deaf People

February 7/8-9, 2024


Joining Forces, New Perspectives; The Future of Mental Health for Deaf People.

Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands


A future oriented conference about

  • access to mental health and well-being services for all Deaf people with mental health needs: *including Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late deafened and Deaf-Blind people of all ages and their families, and hearing children of Deaf parents
  • quality of care
  • prevention of mental health problems.


‘’Let’s look into the future of Mental Health for Deaf People together’’

The Initiative

Three Dutch institutions for Deaf people, namely

  • Royal Kentalis providing education and specialized care services,
  • GGMD (Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg en Maatschappelijke Dienstverlening), providing ambulatory mental health care and social services,
  • Trajectum, providing in- and outpatient mental health care services for people with intellectual developmental problems and high risk behaviour

have joined forces with the ESMHD (European Society for Mental Health and Deafness) to explore and identify the important building blocks for future proof mental health services for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late deafened or Deafblind, and their families, as well as for hearing children of Deaf adults.


Most studies have found high rates of mental health problems among Deaf people. Up till now there still too few specialized professionals and mental health and well-being services, and the facilities offered are still not equivalent to those for the general hearing population. By consequence, it may be more difficult for Deaf people to find proper mental health care meeting their needs compared to the hearing population.


In 2007, the ESMHD organized the 7th European congress ‘’Joining Forces’’ in Haarlem, The Netherlands. In 2014 the 7th World Congress on Mental Health and Deafness was hosted in Belfast, Northern-Ireland. The Belfast statement on Mental Health and Deafness, formulated together with the World Federation of the Deaf and the ESMHD was a main outcome of this conference.  This statement is highlighting the individual rights of access in mental health settings for Deaf people. Since then, developments regarding a more holistic vision on health, new approaches in prevention and treatment, and the impact of Covid-19 and other forms of turbulence on our mental, social and economic well-being have presented us with new challenges regarding both content and organization of mental health care services as well as the urgency to cooperate effectively with each other.

The unique character of mental health and well-being care for all Deaf people may be described as highly specialized care in a low incidence area, i.e. for the small, linguistically and culturally heterogeneous group of people with special mental health needs.

Theme of the Congres

The central theme of the congress being the best possible mental health and well-being care in the future for all Deaf people the following ingredients may be crucial.

They may serve as important subthemes to be discussed at the congress, and presenters may choose one of more of these as a guideline for their presentation.

  1. Professional knowledge must be up to date (*e.g. Innovations in assessment, treatment, prevention, innovative research)
  2. Sufficient, well-trained professionals must be available (*e.g., Building motivated teams of Deaf and hearing professionals, by training, captivating, binding and connecting linguistically and culturally mixed teams of professionals and support staff)
  3. Optimal care portfolio offered by service providers in the field (e.g., Developing well-defined specialized services which are complementary to services by partners in care)
  4. Fine-tuning to the context of Deaf people, in close collaboration between professionals, users and interest groups (eg., In terms of accessibility, attunement to special needs, quality and continuity of care)
  5. Securing the future of this highly specialized care in a Mental Health Care system that is still mainly oriented at delivering services to hearing people. Visibility, recognition, acceptance, and safeguarding are key factors in this process (e.g., Promoting emancipation of mental health care, cooperation, networking, and chain formation of service providers)


During this conference the following questions may help to approach the challenges and opportunities for the near future.

  • What does it look like: the ‘best’ mental health care of the future?
  • Where do we stand now? What did we achieve in mental health care and prevention until now, what is important and what is (still) missing?
  • What are the obstacles on our road to the best possible care in the future?
  • What are the indispensable pillars for the care of the future? What is our top 5-priorities list to work on from now on?
  • How do we evaluate and secure what we have build?


  • Professionals in mental health and well-being services, and professionals in education working with and for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late deafened and Deafblind people and their families, and children of Deaf parents.
  • Representatives of interest groups and experience experts.
  • Other professionals, administrators and policy makers who are interested in this specialized field of mental health, well-being or education.


Accreditation will be offered for psychiatrists and other medical professionals, psychologists, (ortho-) pedagogues, and other professionals whenever possible.

Main congress languages

English, Dutch, International Sign Language, Dutch Sign Language, English and Dutch captioning


  • Phil.
  • Lange Begijnestraat 11
  • Haarlem

Phil is goed bereikbaar en ligt in het centrum van Haarlem:

  • Circa 7 minuten te voet vanaf centraal station:
  • Met de auto: 5 minuten vanaf de N200:
  • Parkeergarage De Appelaar bevindt zich direct onder de Philharmonie
  • Parkeergarage Raaks aan Zijlvest is 9 minuten lopen