Most Deaf people in England face a variety of barriers if they want psychological therapy. These barriers vary from place to place so whether you can get therapy depends on where you live. This is called a ‘postcode lottery’.
The Deaf Health Charity SignHealth has produced a roadmap which shows some of the common barriers people face in different parts of the country.
In the UK psychological therapy is commissioned by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). There are more than 200 CCGs in the UK. They decide what services are needed for people living in their area. That should include Deaf people!
Click here for more information about deaf Clinical Commissioning Groups
Here are some examples of how deaf people’s access to therapy is different depending on where they live.
In Liverpool, there is a contract to provide Deaf therapy which means Deaf people can receive therapy straight away. BUT, a few miles down the road, there is no contract and Deaf people there have to apply for Deaf therapy and wait 7-9 months for a decision.
One CCG in Wiltshire does not provide Deaf therapy and they told the Deaf person that if they want therapy, they have to bring their own interpreter! If they do not bring their own interpreter, they cannot access therapy.
In Derby, Salford and Southampton, Deaf people must go to a mainstream therapy service first and if they are not happy after a few sessions, they can then request a Deaf therapist.
Hammersmith and Fulham CCG do provide Deaf therapy but only with the support from the GP. It has been reported that some GPs are not supporting this. They are acting as a barrier. This needs to be removed.
The barriers faced by Deaf people are real and they are important. Most people who want psychological therapy just want help. They do not want to have to ‘take on the system’ and fight for their rights. Deaf people should not have to fight for their rights. Understandably, some people cannot face this so they do not get any help. This is why SignHealth is campaigning for a national psychology therapy service. All CCGs could come together and commission one service that is available to everyone, everywhere. No more barriers, no more postcode lottery.