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My amazing summer job experience at CHS

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CHS Summer Student, Samantha Meehan

When I saw the posting for summer jobs at the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) on Indeed, I had never heard of CHS before. I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity as I have learned so much in eight weeks. The first few weeks I spent researching various issues relating to mental health in the Deaf community. I joked that my “mind was being blown,” but it was the truth. The scientific articles gave me a much-needed eye-opening to some of the dynamics and increased prevalence of mental health issues in the community. I was able to develop a greater understanding of the prevalence of sexual assault and domestic abuse, increased risk for depression and anxiety, the importance of identity, the grief that can come from the loss of hearing in deafened individuals, and so much more. I was also able to learn more about Deaf culture’s rich history and their sense of community.

By spending time with General Support Services and Hearing Care Counselling program counsellors, I was able to attend client appointments and make my own small contributions to help. Shadowing the counsellors and interacting with the clients reinforced the passion I have for helping others and my goal to make a career of it. Not only was I filled with a sense of purpose, the counsellors also ensured my awareness of accessibility. This will help me to better support patients I may have in my future career.

Through my research and experiences with clients, I learned that perinatal depression is 2.5 times more likely in Deaf women. I took this knowledge and my newfound awareness of CHS services and created a poster to highlight how CHS could help these women. I spent time bringing it to local OB-GYN offices and clinics, hospitals and mental health centres. It was important to me to connect with these doctors to make sure their patients knew about available CHS services and ensuring patients have appropriate access to communication.

Access to communication was another thing I worked on by increasing my own personal American Sign Language (ASL) skills. By interacting with those around me, asking lots of questions and studying, I was able to build up my vocabulary so that I was not only able to communicate with those in the workplace, but also with clients during appointments. That was a really important experience for me. Not only was I able to make my own small contributions, but I was able to build a relationship with the clients by communicating in their language. This instilled a desire to continue to learn more about the language; I have already made plans to join a club when I move back to school to work on conversational skills, as well as volunteering at one of the seminars run by a CHS counsellor to continue helping the clients.

Throughout the eight weeks of my internship, I wrote many reports; read countless research papers and scientific journals; signed people up for ASL classes and worked on my own ASL skills; provided resources for the counsellors to use in their appointments; reviewed, cross-referenced and edited new policies and procedures; and rewrote the old CONNECT manual. All of these experiences helped me to develop skills for my future career and allowed me to learn about many different aspects in caring for others. Everyone I worked with was compassionate, dedicated, motivated and always open to my incessant questions and ideas. Overall, this was an amazing work experience!

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