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Deaf charity wins contract to offer therapy services in BSL

14th November 2011

A NATIONAL Deaf* healthcare charity has recently been awarded a contract to provide psychological therapy services for Deaf people in the North West of England.

SignHealth has won the tender to offer the first British Sign Language (BSL) ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) services for the Deaf community in England.

Steve Powell, Chief Executive of SignHealth, which is based in Beaconsfield but provides services across the country, said: “IAPT is a government initiative aimed at improving emotional and psychological well-being, and getting people into work or back into work through a stepped model of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

“The IAPT service is available for the general population, including black and ethnic minority groups, but up until now it has not been appropriately accessible for the Deaf population.

“We will be providing the first specialist IAPT service for Deaf people in England, which will be piloted in the North West, including Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire, and will be known under the name of ‘BSL Healthy Minds’. If it is successful it is envisaged that it will then be extended throughout the country.”

SignHealth’s BSL Healthy Minds pilot service will employ Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs), who are fluent in sign language, to provide one-to-one support and group therapies for Deaf people experiencing common mental health problems.

Steve added: “According to a number of studies, 40% of Deaf people will, at some time in their lives, experience common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, compared to just 20% of the hearing population.

“Until now the communication needs of a Deaf person seeking support for personal issues have been managed by having an interpreter in the room or by not accessing any treatment at all. To provide an interpreter is not only costly and time consuming, but more importantly from the Deaf person’s perspective is not therapeutically effective.

“Having a third person in the room is intrusive and doesn’t encourage the relationship between the therapist and client to develop to its full potential. In many cases the client will feel closer to the interpreter and develop a trusting relationship with them rather than the therapist, which can lead to less successful treatment and the hearing therapist feeling de-skilled.

“Having a BSL fluent therapist enables trust to build quickly and increase the effectiveness of the therapy enormously.”

SignHealth is the only UK charity focused on improving the mental and physical health of Deaf people. The BSL Healthy Minds service is offered in addition to SignHealth’s Psychological Therapy Service.

The charity, which has its headquarters at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, delivers change in care and treatment and in providing supported living, advocacy, outreach, psychological therapy and health promotion, all within a BSL supported environment.

To find out more about SignHealth and its BSL Healthy Minds service, please call 01494 687600 or visit www.signhealth.org.uk.

 

 

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