- SpeechEase Team
Speech-Language Therapy: It’s good for Mental Health
Think about why you first chose to seek speech-language therapy; perhaps your toddler is a late talker; perhaps you wanted to figure out why you’re hoarse so often, or maybe your teen is struggling with their social skills. Most often when we seek speech therapy we have an immediate, concrete goal in mind; but did you know that receiving intervention for these things can also have many additional positive impacts on your overall mental wellbeing(1)?
The complexity of the relationship between a person’s speech and language skills and their mental health is undeniable; in my first years of practice as a speech-language pathologist I took great interest in learning about their intricate interactions(2).
Communication difficulties in childhood are a risk factor for developing mental health problems; adolescents with developmental language disorder (DLD) are more likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety than their peers(3); and problems with pragmatic language (social communication) in childhood are associated with an increased risk of mental health crisis in adolescence(4).
It makes sense – if we cannot easily connect with our peers or our communities, we will inevitably struggle with negative feelings about ourselves, experience poor self-esteem or be less likely to ask for help. Our communication skills are also important for our own identity and self-concept; we build our self-knowledge with our available vocabulary, and our ability to conceptualize through language. If we have limited self-concept, we are more vulnerable to misunderstanding our strengths and challenges, and therefore more likely to struggle in many domains of life.
This is where the value of speech-language pathologists truly stands out; particularly at SpeechEase, a neurodiversity affirming clinic. Our aims from the outset are:
To understand every person’s strengths and challenges, and work constructively and positively in partnership with clients and families so that they can self-identify their skills and use their strengths to navigate their challenges.
To be part of your community; we are a welcoming, safe space for all our clients and families; we work to create joyful, meaningful interventions. Our strong social group program also acts to connect clients with each other, giving opportunities for new friendships and networks to form.
To advocate for clients in their own communities, families, schools and beyond; we are educators, team members and negotiators outside of your direct therapy time to ensure that the world around us also becomes an easier place to exist in for people with diverse strengths, challenges and differences.
1 RCSLT (2020). Talking about mental health: speech, language, communication and swallowing
2 NHS Digital. (2018). Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017. https://files.digital.nhs.uk/42/9E0302/MHCYP%202017%20 Multiple%20Conditions.pdf
3 Botting, N. et al. (2016). Depression and Anxiety Change from Adolescence to Adulthood in Individuals with and without Language Impairment. PlOS One, 11(7)
4 Sullivan S.A. et al. (2016) A longitudinal investigation of childhood communication ability and adolescent psychotic experiences in a community sample. Schizophrenia Research, 173(1-2), 54-61.
Written by: Rachel Kennedy
Registered Speech Language Pathologist