Deaf people start fight back after their mental health services are attacked

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Two bitter blows have been dealt to the Deaf community this week. The Deaf Health Charity SignHealth says enough is enough. Last Tuesday, NHS England said it wanted to scrap the Clinical Reference Group on Deaf Mental Health. The following day the charity was told their bid to the Department of Health to provide online psychological therapies had been turned down.

Celia Hulme, Campaigns Officer, said: ‘Mental health services for Deaf people are already shockingly poor. These announcements make a bad situation worse. Most Deaf people do not have access to psychological therapies on the same basis as hearing people. There is no equality. That cannot be right in 2016.’

“Today we are launching a campaign, ‘Therapy, the Deaf Way’ to demand the Government acts. We want to see a nationally commissioned psychological therapy service, which all Deaf people in England can access. We want Deaf people to have access to therapists who can sign fluently. Some ‘lucky’ Deaf people are offered a BSL/English interpreter but it is not the same. Would a hearing person really want therapy via an interpreter?”

The charity will be putting forward a proposal of its own to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health.

Celia added:  “Jeremy Hunt can no longer ignore Deaf people. He has a legal responsibility to make sure health services are delivered equitably. He is failing in his duty. He is failing Deaf people. He should know that Deaf people are twice as likely to experience depression as hearing people. And yet he and the NHS do nothing. The precious few services that do exist for Deaf people now appear to be under further attack. Enough is enough.”

SignHealth is calling on Deaf people to take a stand now, before it is too late. More information can be found on the website,