Date Published: 26 November 2005

Health and social care services for deaf people with mental health needs in UK

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

In response to 'Towards Equity and Access, the Best Practice Guidance on mental health and deafness' published earlier this year by the National Institute for Mental Health in England and the Department of Health, two charities have joined forces to launch a Service Provider's Guide to improve health and social care services for deaf people with mental health needs.

Sign and the Mental Health Foundation have designed Mental Health and Deafness: Addressing Basic Rights for service providers in the voluntary and statutory sectors, to raise awareness of the basic rights of deaf people when accessing mental health services. It aims to help providers implement the additional measures called for in Towards Equity and Access. The Guide includes a Deaf Mental Health Charter for endorsement by service providers.

It is estimated that up to 40% of all deaf and hard of hearing people experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Yet the majority of the 3 million deaf people who may need access to mental health care are forced to overcome considerable barriers to access services that meet their needs.

Steve Powell, Chief Executive of Sign, said:

" Many of the barriers to mental health services are caused by lack of information and knowledge about deafness and its implications when assessing and treating mental health problems. This charter aims to reduce those barriers, which socially exclude many deaf people. Deaf people have the right to be treated equally."

Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

" Evidence suggests that the prevalence of mental health problems in deaf people is significantly higher than that in the general population. The ability to communicate is at the heart of good mental health and whilst deaf people will often have excellent communication skills, they may face greater obstacles to establishing good communication with the rest of the community and with formal services, which can affect their vulnerability and their ability to recover from mental health problems."

The Service Provider's Guide includes: a Deaf Mental Health Charter; an Executive Briefing on mental health and deafness; a deaf friendly version of the charter in the form of a poster, and a factsheet detailing specialist Mental Health Services for deaf people who use sign language.

Source(s): The Mental Health Foundation (UK)

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