Paul Stemman

Deaf Info

24 October, 2006
Home > Services > Specialist care > Special NHS services.

Specialist Services for Deaf people with mental health problems (adults) - NHS

A number of specialist services have developed for Deaf people who experience mental health problems.



Where are they?


The John Denmark Unit, near Manchester
National Deaf Services (Old Church), Balham in London
National Deaf Mental Health Services, Birmingham

Rampton Hospital, Nottinghamshire, which is a high security hospital.



What do they do?


The three main services all assess and treat Deaf people who may have a mental health problem. Sometimes this is done by making an assessment at an out-patient clinic. Each service holds clinics at various places within their ‘catchment’ area.


Sometimes a service will admit someone as an in-patient, and can assess or treat them while they stay in hospital. Once the person is well enough to be discharged, they are normally seen again as an out-patient.


The services offer different treatments, but these include: finding a suitable medication, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), counselling, and Occupational Therapy (OT).


What makes these services special is that the staff are able to communicate in BSL. Indeed, many of the staff are Deaf. In addition, the teams have far more experience of treating Deaf patients than normal hospitals. Communication is very important when trying to assess someone with a mental health problem - probably more crucial than with a physical problem. Being on a normal psychiatric ward can add to a person’s fear and sense of isolation. That is why these services are so important.



What don’t they do?


None of the three teams is an emergency service. They cannot offer urgent assessments, or admit people in an emergency. In such cases, the three specialist services try to work in partnership with mental health teams that are local to the patient. They can offer advice and support, and may work towards transferring a patient when it is possible.



How can I access them?


Each service has a different referral procedure. It is easiest to contact the unit first and ask what you need to do. The service may want your GP, or a psychiatrist, to agree that a referral is necessary. If you find it difficult to access one of the services, then contact Sign’s Advocacy Service.