Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, an opportunity to recognise the importance of looking after our mental health and also shining a light on the services available to support people with their emotional wellbeing.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is particularly poignant given the circumstances our world finds itself in at the moment, and now more than ever it’s important that we pay attention to looking after not just our own mental health, but that of our family, friends, colleagues and people we support

Did you know that people living with deafness are twice as likely to develop poor mental health compared to hearing people?

The reason – deafness is often a hidden condition and therefore so too is the impact it can have on a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. The huge barriers deaf people face on a daily basis include communication, access to information and a lack of deaf awareness in wider society. This leads to an increased risk of social isolation and an associated risk of developing poor mental health.

In a society where we’re being encouraged to talk for the good of our wellbeing and the emphasis is on talking therapies, we need to consider deaf people who may not be able to access telephone based support. These services are particularly inaccessible for Deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first and preferred language and who often have low levels of literacy due to poor educational experiences.

This is illustrated by the face that, sadly over the last few years, a growing number of deaf men have committed suicide. This simply can’t keep happening. More needs to be done in order to support our deaf community at the earliest possible opportunity to prevent such extreme actions seeming like the only option.

GDA is delighted to be having ongoing conversations with Gloucestershire CCG, Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust to introduce a specialist wellbeing service that will support people living with hearing loss in Gloucestershire. We are in the process of applying to the National Lottery so we can recruit a

Wellbeing Officer who will work with every organisation to fulfil the needs of every D/deaf person, including national deaf mental health organisations, so every deaf person will not only access counselling services, but wellbeing activities in between every counselling sessions.

The vision is that a Wellbeing Officer based at the Centre for Deaf People in Gloucester, will provide all D/deaf people with an equal opportunity to chat, attend workshops, attend sessions and all other activities that are already in and around Gloucestershire and beyond. In addition, we will communicate in every accessible format to connect with every D/deaf person who needs our help.

This service is even more critical now given the impact of COVID on deaf people who were already socially isolated and facing daily struggles with their mental health as they try and navigate life in a hearing world. So do join us in celebrating Mental Health Awareness week and supporting deaf people to live life to the full.

If you have want more information or need support with your emotional wellbeing, please contact reg.cobb@gda.org.uk or text 07875 610860.