This week, with the publication of the latest NHS 5 year Mental Health plan and the BBC series on mental wellbeing, there has been a great deal of media interest in Mental Health, however, as usual the issue of Mental Health and Deafness is being sidelined.
Whereas in the general population, one in four (25%) people are likely to have some sort of mental health condition in a lifetime, in the deaf population it is more like one in 2.5 (40%) this is a shocking statistic which cannot be ignored.
There are several reasons for this disparity, amongst many other reasons, there is the lack of access to information, the lack of and appropriate access to mental health services and the lack of health education.
There is still a great deal of stigma attached to mental health conditions in the deaf community (just as it can be in the general population), however, The British Society for Mental Health and Deafness say that evidence shows it is important to take action quickly to protect your mental wellbeing by speaking out about it and getting the necessary help and support.
In the Deaf Community, there is often a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance about mental health conditions, yet developing mental health issues can be resolved through better understanding and support thus preventing their mental health getting worse.
An example is when someone may be upset about the loss of a pet, a hearing person can pick up the phone and getting some comfort through having a long heart to heart conversation with a friend, whereas deaf people often do not have that opportunity. A small incident can easily and rapidly escalate to full blown mental health issues requiring hospital admission.
There are some solutions such as peer to peer counselling which is very important for deaf people with mental health issues, as SignHealth rightly state – if a hearing person feels uncomfortable in the presence of a third person in the counselling consultation, why should it be acceptable for a deaf person to have an interpreter when qualified and accredited deaf counsellors are available (but largely under employed)? Statistics also show that with peer to peer support recovery is quicker and more cost effective.
Deaf people need to speak out by sharing experiences not only about our own individual issues but also collectively.
Find out more about the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness by clicking here.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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