Deaf mental health services

See me, hear me. Mental health barriers for disabled & Deaf Londoners

11 April 2017

Disabled people and Deaf people face considerable difficulty accessing the mental health support they need:

  • Deaf people told us that their frustration at communication barriers is sometimes mistaken for aggression by health professionals.
  • The NHS website has over 900 health-related videos, yet just one is available in British Sign Language (BSL).[2]
  • Mental health services are not always accessible to disabled people and Deaf people - facilities may not be adapted to support people with mobility impairments.
  • 92 per cent of blind and partially sighted people surveyed received no emotional support at the time of diagnosis.[3]

Disabled people and Deaf people are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Deaf people are twice as likely to suffer from depression as hearing people.[4]

  • More than one in ten adult Londoners has some form of impairment.[5]
  • There are over a million people with hearing loss, including over 80,000 profoundly or severely Deaf people in London.[6]
  • There are 175,000 people living with sight loss in London.[7]
  • There are around 469,000 Londoners with a degree of mobility impairment.[8]

The London Assembly Health Committee publishes its findings and recommendations to the Mayor today on how he can support better mental health for disabled people and Deaf people. The report recommends:

  • The Mayor should help commission pan-London communications support for Deaf Londoners and those with learning disabilities.
  • The Mayor and London Health Board should look closely at issues around employment, housing, crime and transport, to ensure disabled people and Deaf people are given control and choice over their lives.
  • The Mayor and the London Health Board should capture data on physical and sensory impairment across London, in order to assess need. Mental health trusts should also audit how well services meet the needs of disabled people and Deaf people.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the Health Committee, said:

“It’s appalling that such a major health inequality exists within the health system, especially when there are quick wins, which could make a significant difference to the lives of disabled people and Deaf people. Simple changes, like providing a mobile number to text when a Deaf person is in a crisis situation could open up services.

Supporting independent living is also absolutely crucial for good mental wellbeing. The Mayor has powers in housing, transport, employment and crime and could do more to ensure disabled people and Deaf people have choice and control over their lives.

We need to include the voices of disabled people and Deaf people in shaping the services they need. The Mayor of London needs to step up to the challenge of addressing this major health inequality.”

Follow us @LondonAssembly and take part in the discussion using #AssemblyHealth and #MentalHealth

Notes to editors

  1. Mental Health – Disabled and Deaf people’ report attached.
  2. Action on Hearing Loss submission.
  3. Thomas Pocklington Trust submission.
  4. › About Deafness
  9. The Health Committee supports the social model of disability – disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices, so they can be independent and equal in society.
  10. Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the London Assembly Health Committee, is available for interview. Please see contact details below.
  11. The Health Committee.
  12. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.