Words by Smiley Team
In positive news for healthcare, Deaf charity SignHealth has become the first Deaf specialist service to receive a contract from NHS England. The organisation will open access to mental healthcare by providing talking therapy in British Sign Language (BSL).
The service will offer fundamental support for people struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns that will decrease inequalities in healthcare faced by Deaf people.
“This NHS contract removes a major barrier to vital mental health support for Deaf people,” the charity said. “Previously, access to therapy in sign language through NHS funding was often difficult.”
Deaf patients in England had to apply for funding to cover therapy on an individual basis. They would have to wait as it was approved by clinical panels before they could access this important care.
This regional approach was complicated and costly, often resulting in a postcode lottery, with many being turned down, the charity said. Others endured long waiting periods before funding would be approved and they could access proper mental health care tailored to their needs.
But today (9 March), the charity will remove that barrier and offer life-changing support for people who should be a top priority for mental healthcare.
Dr Sarah Powell, Clinical Lead at SignHealth said: “Deaf people are twice as likely to experience mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety compared to hearing people. This is a serious and sometimes life-threatening health inequality.”
She explained: “Therapy delivered in sign language has been proven to have higher recovery rates and we are delighted that this contract removes the funding barrier so that more Deaf people are able to access life-changing treatment.”
DONATE: To help pass advice, information and support services to deaf adults and children, donate to SignHealth.
SUPPORT: Discover exciting ways to fundraise or get involved with SignHealth.