Victoria Nelson: Why we set up counselling service Deaf4Deaf

Posted on May 10, 2017



This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and next week is Deaf Awareness Week, so this is a good time for us to speak about Deaf mental health.

As you probably have seen recently, there has been a lot of media, broadcasts and information, interviews with celebrities. Even the Royal family are involved with their ‘Heads Together’ campaign.

Deaf mental health is still a much-neglected field as deaf people are twice as likely (one in two) to suffer a mental health problem as hearing people (one in four people). Deaf people have greater difficulty getting mental health care and the quality of care tends to be lower.

www.Deaf4Deaf.com are the first online video counselling service for deaf people in the UK. It was created in June 2016 as it was a much-needed service.

Deaf4Deaf regularly post mental health awareness videos on Facebook and Twitter to reach the deaf community which has increased in popularity in recent months.

Deaf4Deaf originated out of a need for deaf people to access counselling and psychotherapy. Deaf people have the same need for good communication and safe care as everyone else. There is a need for a linguistic and cultural counselling service, where deaf people can access private or NHS funded counselling.

We recognise as a team, there is a need for this service as there are deaf people that live in rural places, or do not drive, are unable to get public transport, do not want to go to their GPs and get wrongly diagnosed, do not want third party involvement (e.g. like an interpreter) and many other reasons.

All our counsellors are trained in deaf-focused counselling that understands deaf culture. We are all trained in BSL or SSE or even oral methods to meet the deaf community and its varying communication needs.

Interestingly, we have also reached the CODA (Children of Deaf adults) community who feel a deaf counsellor is more appropriately matched to them and their cultural identities.

What propelled Deaf4Deaf to start this online video counselling business? Hearing people can choose their counsellor and there is a large choice in their local vicinity. Deaf people? They do not have a choice. We wanted to give deaf people a choice.

They often have to travel miles or counties to reach their counsellor of choice. Deaf4Deaf gets rid of the barrier by offering video remote online counselling (with the use of a smartphone, iPad or computer and we use Facetime, WhatsApp video or Skype) as they can pay privately to have counselling sessions which can be arranged quickly and urgently if required.

We also have got GP funding as the GPs are usually very supportive of our economically viable service as they are understanding of the need to have linguistic and cultural counselling.

Deaf people often report anxiety, fear, mistrust and frustration when seeing health professionals, we wanted to get rid of this barrier by increasing access to good communication and a good quality counselling service.

Deaf4Deaf are aware that there is a need for deaf people to protect their mental health, a need for them to take action, and getting the necessary advice, help and support. We are proud that we can do this for the deaf community by providing a viable, cost effective and accessible service.

To find out more, go to: www.deaf4deaf.com or contact info@deaf4deaf.com.

Victoria has been deaf since birth; she grew up in Manchester in a hearing family as one of three siblings. She was educated in a deaf (PHU) unit in a mainstream school. When Vikki was 11 years old she attended a deaf oral residential school. After graduating from university with a honours degree, she travelled the world, experiencing different deaf cultures in various countries. Upon her return to the UK she worked in London, trained as an executive manager in a large London store before deciding to pursue a psychotherapy career.

She was one of the first deaf people to train at Metanoia Institute, Ealing and qualify as a psychotherapeutic counsellor, specialising in Transactional Analysis (TA) psychotherapy. She is currently a member of the disability and equality committee at Metanoia Institute. Vikki works with hearing and deaf clients using a range of communication methods. Vikki has always wanted to give something back to the deaf community in her professional capacity, as she feels that the area of deaf mental health is a priority. Deaf4Deaf was born out of frustration that accessible services for deaf people needed to be improved upon. Deaf4Deaf plans to campaign to make psychological therapies accessible for the deaf community, paving the way for the current and future generations.

She says her greatest reward as a therapist is helping clients explore ways in their lives that will allow them to look forward to the future with hope. She helps people develop healthier perceptions of themselves and strengthen their relationships so they can know themselves to be peaceful, complete, whole and safe.

She is a lover of outside activities, social connections, cycling and walking with her dog. She strongly holds to the words by Yalom ’It’s the relationship that heals’ as she has seen this in her own clinical practice and her own relationships.

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