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New report demands action to address mental health inequalities faced by deaf community

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Deaf people in Wales are experiencing significant mental health inequalities because there is a lack of accessible services, no specialist Deaf mental health service in Wales and limited training about Deaf issues for health and care workers, according to a new report.

Deaf People Wales: Hidden Inequality highlights the challenges faced by Deaf people in Wales who experience mental health problems and calls on the Welsh Government to make significant changes.

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The report, compiled by the All Wales Deaf Mental Health and Wellbeing Group, was launched at the Senedd’s Cross-Party Group for Deaf Issues and copies have already been sent to Senedd members to raise awareness of the issues it raises.

These include:

  • Limited implementation of the All Wales Accessible Information Standards meaning that Deaf people still don’t get information in ways they can understand and engage with;
  • A need for an advice and signposting service for individuals, families, and workers;
  • A knowledge gap because lots of health professionals do not know about Deaf counselling services for Deaf people that are provided by Deaf people; and,
  • Deaf people have to be admitted to Birmingham, London or Manchester specialist mental health wards for full access to communication in BSL for assessment and/or treatment.

Dr Julia Terry, Associate Professor of mental health and nursing at Swansea University, is among the authors. She said: “The mental health of Deaf people in Wales has been a neglected issue for decades.

“Deaf people are already at twice the risk of mental health problems and find it extremely difficult to get help as services rarely provide accessible information or culturally relevant services.

“If nothing changes, the mental health of Deaf people in Wales will continue to be at risk.

“A conversation needs to start with Welsh Government to develop short- and long-term solutions to improve services in Wales for Deaf people experiencing poor mental health.”

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The All Wales Deaf Mental Health and Wellbeing Group is:

Paul Redfern – Chair: All Wales Deaf Mental Health and Wellbeing Group, Ex- BDA Cymru Manager 
Jacqui Bond – former Local Authority Specialist Social Worker with Deaf people  
Cath Booth – Head of Service, Achieve Together, Care and Support services  
Anouschka Foltz – Associate Professor: Linguistics, University of Graz, Austria, researcher in health care with Deaf people  
Michelle Fowler Powe – Advocacy Coordinator: British Deaf Association  
Helen Green – Programme Manager, Equality and Human Rights, Public Health Wales  
Ceri Harris – ABUHB Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead – former Velindre EDI  
Roger Hewitt – British Society of Mental Health and Deafness  
Stephanie Hill – Business Support Services Manager, Centre for Sign, Sight and Sound (COS)  
Christopher Shank – Senior Lecturer: Linguistics, Bangor University, researcher in health care with Deaf people  
Anne Silman – North Wales Betsi Cadwaladr UHB mental health directorate – Bevan Commission Examplar  
Louise Sweeney – Chief Executive Officer, Wales Council for Deaf People  
Julia Terry – Associate Professor: Swansea University, mental health and nursing  
Sofia Vougioukalou – Researcher at Cardiff University, Dementia, Deaf carers, & patient experience  

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