Chris is one of SignHealth’s Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP). Deaf clients can have therapy with a therapist who signs.
I’m meeting Mel at her GP’s surgery – it’s the first time she’s ever had therapy because it’s only available in British Sign Language through BSL Healthy Minds.
Mel is very nervous; she’s had difficulty communicating before and doesn’t know what to expect. I say ‘hello’ in BSL and she looks really pleased.
The GP’s surgery is familiar, which makes Mel feel more at ease. I explain that the focus of BSL HealthyMinds is to help people with depression and anxiety using psychological therapies.
Mel tells me her depression and anxiety started because of money problems. Worries about paying bills led her to withdraw socially. She also lost interest in daily activities such as cleaning, cooking or going shopping.
“Mel tells me her depression and anxiety started because of money problems.”
I ask if she’s had any thoughts about suicide or self-harm. She hasn’t but she is drinking more than usual – two to three glasses of wine each evening.
We agree to start her therapy with Behavioural Activation, which tries to gradually decrease avoidance and isolation and increase engagement in activities that improve mood. Mel hopes it will give her motivation to do things such as cleaning and cooking.
We’ll work on motivating Mel to do other things such as adult colouring books and walks in the park. As her confidence increases we’ll talk about contacting her friends again.
I’ll also signpost Mel to her local Citizens Advice Bureau and deaf organisations to help sort out her money problems. With financial worries reduced, hopefully Mel will start to take back control.