The investment of £1.25 billion in young people’s mental health services, announced in today’s budget, is great news.
Anything which closes the gap between the way physical and mental health issues are treated is hugely welcome.
The mental health services for children and young people have been badly under-resourced. All sides of the political spectrum seem to have woken up to that fact now.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, says the way young people with mental health conditions have been treated has been an “institutionalised form of cruelty”.
The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham called the current provision for young people with mental health conditions a scandal, and a “national emergency”.
So what should we call the service for Deaf young people and Deaf adults who use sign language to communicate?
Isolation caused by problems communicating makes Deaf people twice as likely as hearing people to experience mental health problems such as Depression and Anxiety.
Those Deaf people are then facing treatment under the same system as hearing people, but on top of the difficulties hearing people face the service doesn’t even operate in the language they use as first choice.
That’s a tragedy when the recommended treatment is talking therapy and a close relationship between patient and counsellor is essential.
There is an alternative, and the NHS has invested about £1.5m in it already. Therapists who are fluent in sign language have been trained and provided with materials translated into sign language.
The BSL Healthy Minds service is cheaper than working through an interpreter, and has a success rate of 75% compared with the national average 44%. The tragedy is that changes to NHS commissioning have undermined the purchasing of the service. Commissioners are saying that Deaf people will have to use mainstream, hearing therapy services.
As a result, many of the specially trained therapists have been made redundant.
Deaf people are more likely to need therapy, and yet are now less likely to be able to get appropriate support.
The large investment in mental health provision today is great news, for some. The sad fact is that it widens an already large gap between Deaf and hearing people.
Image Credit: Houses of Parliament by RajanPhotos. Chancellor of the Exchequer by Getty Images.