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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Video Transcript: Mental Health Services for Deaf People

The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health is a collaboration co-chaired by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which brings together leading organisations  to help publish a series of short guides for people who commission mental health services that describe ‘what good looks like’ in various mental health service settings.

SignHealth is a charity dedicated to making sure Deaf people receive the same sort of access as hearing people to healthcare and health information. The charity has a range of projects, services and campaigns, all aimed at improving the health of Deaf people.


Ten key messages for commissioners

These key messages are what every Commissioner should know when commissioning primary care mental health services for Deaf people. 

  1. Deaf people face access and communication barriers in healthcare, and have poorer mental and physical health than the rest of the population.

  2. Life experiences as a Deaf person in a hearing world, are unique to Deaf people, and require different approaches to providing primary mental health care. Commissioners should commission appropriate cultural and linguistic provisions in services for Deaf people.

  3. Everyone who uses mental health services should have equitable access to effective interventions, and equitable experiences and outcomes. Under the Equality Act 2010 Deaf people are included as having ‘protected characteristics’.

  4. Psychological therapy in BSL is as cost effective, if not more, than a hearing therapist using a BSL/English interpreter.

  5. Deaf people should be able to choose to receive primary care psychological therapy services in BSL directly from a BSL practitioner, without needing a sign language interpreter, if that is their choice.

  6. A comprehensive commissioning strategy is required to enable an appropriate British Sign Language (BSL) Psychological Therapy service to be available.

  7. Commissioners need to ensure that Deaf people have a clear care pathway equitable to the general population.

  8. Where services are commissioned that require sign Language interpretation, commissioners must ensure the provision of interpreters is of high a standard, as highlighted in NHS England’s Quality standards based on the Principles for High Quality Interpreting and Translation Services in Primary Care 2016.

  9. Commissioners need to include Deaf professionals in their workforce planning strategy.

  10. Deaf people need to be involved with the ongoing development of Deaf primary care mental health services.


Who is this guide for?

This guide should be of value to:

  • CCGs and local authorities who should be informed by the principles highlighted in this guide
  • Health and Wellbeing Boards
  • Service providers across primary, secondary and tertiary services


How will this guide help them?

By the end of this guide, readers should:

  • be more familiar with the particular needs of Deaf people who have mental health problems, including issues of access, developmental difference, language and culture.
  • understand what effective primary care mental health services for Deaf people should look like.
  • be aware of the range of services and interventions that should be on offer.
  • understand how those interventions can contribute to achieving recovery outcomes and make improvements in public mental health and wellbeing.


Who has written the guide?

This guide has been written by a group with expertise and experience in the mental health of Deaf people including both Deaf and hearing professionals, academic researchers and in consultation with Deaf patients and carers. The content is evidence-based and includes guidelines deemed to be best practice by expert consensus where the formal evidence-base may be lacking.


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