New resource for Deaf community to help mental health access

A unique video dictionary of mental health signs for the Deaf community has been launched in Glasgow.

Developed in response to issues raised by Deaf service users, the dictionary consists of 45 video clips covering topics including such conditions as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Trauma and Schizophrenia.

Deaf people are 40% more likely than the hearing population to experience mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. But while mental health signs already exist within British Sign Language (BSL), they are rarely fully explained.

For example, a sign for bipolar does not appear alongside a description of what bipolar is and how it can be described.

This new video glossary has been created to explain mental health terms, the roles of NHS staff within mental health services and treatments for a number of conditions.

The videos were created by Paul Hull, an NHSGGC health improvement worker, who is himself Deaf, working with mental health colleagues.

Paul Hull

Paul explained: “It's not just about ensuring patients have the appropriate language, it's important that Deaf people also understand what these terms mean.

“This work is a result of the Deaf community making it clear that they face significant barriers while accessing mental health services.

“Our engagement showed that Deaf people identified a strong desire to have better knowledge of mental health services in BSL as accessing services had been difficult in the past.

“Even when they are informed of the terms, the wrong, or insensitive, questions may be asked, such as ‘can you hear voices in your head?’. The Deaf patient may answer no because they can’t hear, however they may experience ‘voices’ in other forms.

“By making this dictionary accessible and explaining what the terms mean, we hope to make healthcare more easily understandable and accessible for our Deaf community.”

All the videos are available as a playlist on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s YouTube channel: