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Mental Health Center For The Deaf At Western State Hospital

Admissions Criteria

Western State Hospital includes the Mental Health Center for the Deaf (MHCD).  The MHCD addresses cultural and linguistic needs of people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, within the safety and structure of an inpatient setting.

The MHCD evaluates and serves people who have psychiatric conditions and are deaf, deaf-blind, late-deafened, or hard-of-hearing. Patients may have additional problems such as substance abuse, mild mental retardation or other developmental disabilities. The Center also performs court-ordered forensic evaluations for individuals with hearing challenges. Each referral is considered for admission on a case-by-case basis to make sure that the therapeutic milieu can address the individualís communication and treatment needs.

The MHCD provides continuity of care and seeks to return the patient to the least restrictive environment that can meet the individual's communication and treatment needs in the community.

Statement of Purpose/Mission Statement

Western State Hospital participates in the DMHMRSAS overall mission to enable all Virginians with mental illnesses to live in the least restrictive environment possible.  The Mental Health Center for the Deaf (MHCD) seeks to promote the mental health and independent living abilities of deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened, and deaf-blind persons who are admitted for psychiatric hospitalization.

The MHCD provides services in accordance with Western State Hospital's core principles of psychiatric rehabilitation. Assessment and diagnosis, made by a multi-disciplinary team, considers biological, psychological, and social influences on behavior.

Services include diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric conditions and symptoms, forensic evaluations and related services, substance abuse evaluations and related services, and training programs to increase self-care and self-control skills.

The goal of the MHCD is to assist patients to attain the functional capacity for community living with as much independence as possible. In addition, the MHCD also provides consultations and outpatient evaluations to a variety of public and private agencies serving individuals, families, and groups. Telemedicine links are available on a case-by-case basis. 

The MHCD seeks to provide mental health services with an awareness of the social and cultural aspects of growing up with a sensory hearing loss. Center personnel recognize the right of individuals to receive services in a language they can comfortably understand. For many people with hearing loss, this language is English. For other people who are deaf, that language is American Sign Language (ASL). For individuals whose formal language skills are not well developed, other ways are sought to encourage communication in non-verbal modalities, such as gesture and drawing.

The MHCD strives to create possibilities for deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened, and deaf-blind patients to participate meaningfully in decisions about their treatment at Western State Hospital, in their communities, and in their families. Recognizing each person's strengths and limitations to living independently, personnel help patients to grow and develop as much as possible.

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Services Offered

The Mental Health Center for the Deaf (MHCD) at Western State Hospital provides diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation for psychiatric and chemical dependency problems. In addition, the MHCD provides forensic and psychiatric evaluations, both on an inpatient and outpatient basis. The center's services are available to community service boards, group homes, private individuals, prisons, jails and courts and other facilities that may require specialized assessments.

Treatment modalities include: individual, group and family therapies; medications; behavioral and milieu therapies. Rehabilitation focuses on the vocational, social, language, educational, recreational and psychiatric needs of the patients.

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