A Role Model for the Deaf Community
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, the world can be a challenging place to navigate. How does a parent nurture a child born deaf while taking care of their emotional health? How does a person with increasing hearing loss and a behavioral health diagnosis find care that can fit their unique needs? There are very few therapists in Maine fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), so interpreters and other tools are critical to ensure patients and their loved ones get the best support possible.
The Deaf Services program at Maine Behavioral Healthcare is small but mighty, offering behavioral health and case management services. Maria “Mars” Hammond, MSW, joined MBH in 2016 as a Case Manager. With a smile that lights up a room, she projects supportive energy that puts everyone she meets at ease.
Mars is one of five people working on the deaf services team. Her job is to help connect people to the resources they need. That may mean finding out how a client can get the basics of food, shelter, or medical care, including behavioral health services. Some clients have hearing loss, some are deaf/blind, and others have no impairment at all.
Mars with Jade
“Mars is a champ,” said Deaf Services Program Manager Kristine Gile, LCPC. “She is very versatile and able to infuse calm in any situation by stepping back using different approaches. Her connection with the community is incredible, as she serves on many committees and is a valued advocate. If there is a barrier for one of her clients, she won’t stop.”
A domestic violence survivor, Mars has had struggles in life, including difficulties growing up as a person who is deaf. Some tough personal experiences growing up tested her emotions, but those experiences make her more relatable and a valued role model.
“It wasn’t easy to get my degree,” Mars said. “I went through a lot of oppressive experiences, discrimination, and then becoming a single mother unexpectedly, I had to break the cycle. There is a lot of stigma toward people with hearing loss. It makes me happy to see successes with the folks I work with because I know firsthand that the journey is not easy.”