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World Mental Health Day: Maximize Your Hearing, Boost Your Mental Wellbeing

World Mental Health Day: Maximize Your Hearing, Boost Your Mental Wellbeing

Washington, DC, October 4, 2017—For World Mental Health Day, October 10, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is raising awareness of the link between unaddressed hearing loss and depression and is educating consumers on the positive impact that addressing hearing loss can have on mood and mental wellbeing.

BHI is urging people of all ages to include regular hearing tests as part of a healthy lifestyle to help promote good mental health. Research shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids often have greater social engagement, improved quality of life, and are less likely to feel down, depressed, or hopeless than those with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids. 

BHI offers a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check at BetterHearing.org to help people determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional. The BHI Hearing Check prompts people through a series of questions in just a few quick minutes.

How do hearing and mood connect?

A growing body of research shows a link between unaddressed hearing loss and depression. And it appears to affect adults of all ages.

The findings of one recent study—based on longitudinal data of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) from ten European countries—suggested that hearing loss can contribute to depression and, subsequently, to restriction in social activities.

Other, earlier studies point to similar conclusions. A 2014 study using data from the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), for example, found that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults of all ages and is most pronounced in 18-to-69-year old’s.

An Italian study found that working adults—35 to 55 years of age—with untreated mild to moderate age-related hearing loss were more prone to depression, anxiety, and interpersonal sensitivity than those without hearing problems.

And a Johns Hopkins study found that older adults with hearing loss were 57 percent more likely to have deep episodes of stress, depression, or bad mood than their peers with normal hearing.

In light of these findings, some experts believe hearing care professionals have an important role to play in helping to promote good mental health among people with hearing loss.

The good news is that when people get a hearing test and use professionally fitted and individually programmed hearing aids—when recommended by a hearing care professional—most say they see an improvement in their overall quality of life, BHI research shows. They’re also more likely to be optimistic, feel engaged in life, and get more pleasure from doing things. Many even say they feel more confident and better about themselves.

Hearing in the workplace: What can employers do?

The theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 is mental health in the workplace. BHI encourages employers to include hearing health as a workplace wellness priority.

Nearly 60 percent of people in the United States with hearing loss are still working age (18 to 67), according to BHI research. And 30 percent of employees suspect they have a hearing problem but have not sought treatment, EPIC Hearing Healthcare’s “Listen Hear!” survey found. Yet, hearing health is absent from 92 percent of employee wellness programs.

By including hearing tests and hearing health information in workplace wellness programs—as well as including hearing aids as an employee benefit—employers encourage workers to treat hearing loss rather than hide it. Not only does this help the worker, but it creates a work environment where employer and employee can team up to ensure that a worker’s hearing difficulty does not interfere with employee wellbeing, quality of life, morale, productivity, or success in the workplace.

Most hearing aid users in the workforce say it has helped their performance on the job, has had a positive impact on their relationships at work, and helps their overall ability to communicate effectively in most situations.

For more information on where to find a hearing care professional, click here. For information on hearing aid technologies that can help in everyday situations, click here