Hazel Flynn is the manager of SignHealth’s Deaf psychological therapy service, BSL Healthy Minds. Yesterday, England’s Chief Medical Officer raised concerns over mental health services for the wider (hearing) population. But nothing was said about Deaf people and their access to mental health support. Hazel explains the worrying situation Deaf people are now faced with.
“It has been announced by England’s Chief Medical Officer that ‘mental health needs to be more of a priority, with targets for waiting times and more protection for funding’. But, as always, the focus seems to be on the hearing population.
Where does this leave Deaf people? Cuts and restructuring in the NHS have already affected services specialising in Deaf mental health support.
Unfortunately, our service will be cut because in some areas of the country the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are not able to provide funding. Contracts are being terminated leaving many Deaf people without any access to therapy treatments in their native language, and although some CCGs are willing to pay for a BSL interpreter to work alongside a hearing therapist, this is more expensive and a has a lower recovery rate because of the lack of cultural understanding. It can even lead to more therapy sessions being needed.
The worst case scenario is that CCGs will not pay for an interpreter and expect a BSL user to attend appointments with a hearing therapist with no communication support at all – this is really happening in some parts of England!
Are you Deaf and need support for depression, anxiety or low mood? Are you a hearing professional and want support for a Deaf patient? Please visit the BSL Healthy Minds section of our website for information and referral forms.
We urge England’s Chief Medical Officer to consider the needs of Deaf people.
Deaf Organisations and Deaf people themselves need to meet with their CCG commissioners and find out what they are providing for BSL users in their area. The Deaf community need equal access to professional mental health services and protected funding so they can access a therapy service that is appropriate for them.
Are you worried about the future of Deaf psychological therapies? Continue the debate by leaving your comments below.
Image Credit: Casey David