Why I’m Studying Wellbeing and How You Can Get Involved

Published: Apr 16th, 2020

Jessica is training to become a clinical psychologist at Lancaster University in the UK. As part of her training, she’s doing a research project exploring wellbeing in deaf adults, a topic that we currently don’t know enough about, and would love for you to take part. Please scroll down for more information.

Recently, wellbeing has been mentioned more in the media, usually in relation to the coronavirus disease pandemic. As this is a stressful and unusual time, it’s likely to impact on everyone’s wellbeing, so there’s no better time to take a look at wellbeing in general, and how it affects the deaf community.

What is Wellbeing?

Wellbeing can be described as the way “you feel about yourself and your life”1. If someone experiences high levels of wellbeing they may experience a feeling of general happiness or contentment.

Wellbeing can apply to how someone generally feels about their life as well as to specific areas, such as their emotions, relationships, physical health and job.  In turn, these specific areas may also influence someone’s sense of overall wellbeing. Meaning, our wellbeing often influences our overall happiness and quality of life.

What Influences Wellbeing?

Many factors can influence wellbeing such as physical health, mental health, relationships and opportunities (within education or employment), as well as  sleep, diet and stress levels.

It’s important for us to understand how these factors can impact on one another. This would help us to understand why an individual might experience low wellbeing, and could inform the development of better resources to support them.

Wellbeing Among Deaf People

There has been lots of research into wellbeing focused around hearing people, but much less research has been conducted with deaf people. The limited research that has been done suggests that deaf individuals may experience poorer wellbeing than hearing individuals.

This is likely to be caused by a number of factors ranging from a lack of access to appropriate education and employment opportunities, communication barriers, poor deaf awareness and lack of accessible information, all of which can contribute to social disadvantage, and impact on physical health.

The ‘Sick of It’ report by Sign Health highlighted that a lack of accessible information and barriers in accessing health care services contributed to poorer physical health in deaf people, alongside poorer experiences of diagnosis and treatment. All of these factors, and more, may contribute to poorer wellbeing in deaf people. However, the exact ways that these factors interact are less well understood.

Being deaf in a world designed for hearing people often acts as a barrier that stops deaf people reaching their full potential. This, most often, starts at a very young age. For instance, deaf babies born to hearing parents face communication barriers that impact early bonding between the parent and baby. Research within hearing people suggests these bonding barriers can influence levels of wellbeing in adult life, but this research does not exist for deaf adults. Therefore, it’s important that our research can identify experiences that may be unique to deaf individuals, and explore how these impact their wellbeing. Allowing us to better understand how we can support deaf individuals with their wellbeing and mental health.

Deaf Wellbeing Research Project

My research project investigates how emotions and our ability to form relationships may impact wellbeing in deaf adults. By enhancing our understanding of how these factors interact, we hope to develop specific recommendations on how to best support deaf adults experiencing low wellbeing.

I’m aware that the current pandemic is likely to be causing increased stress and worry, which may impact on overall wellbeing, but the purpose of this study is to explore wellbeing more generally, not just in relation to the current pandemic.

To conduct the research, I’m seeking help from deaf adults who are able to complete a short, anonymous online survey (approximately 15-20 minutes to complete). The survey asks a range of questions regarding deafness, feelings towards yourself and your relationships. The study has been reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University.

The survey is written in English, which I’m aware could be challenging for some of the deaf community who rely on BSL. Sadly, we have not yet been able to translate or adopted British Sign Language, but I plan to highlight this as an issue in great detail in my final report. 

How to Take Part

To take part, you’ll need to be aged 18 years old+ and identify as d/Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing.

Jessica – j.creighton@lancaster.ac.uk
Supervisor – Dr Ian Fletcher – i.j.fletcher@lancaster.ac.uk

References

  1. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/wellbeing

Where to find help with your Wellbeing

Follow the links below for helpful wellbeing resources and accessible support.

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