[AI] Fw: Mental health inequalities for deaf and disabled people

A K Dua akdua55 at gmail.com
Wed May 9 04:17:50 EDT 2018

List:    Ourcivilsociety at ourcivilsociety.com

From:    snehasmile94 at gmail.com

Subject: Mental health inequalities for deaf and disabled people

To: ourcivilsociety at ourcivilsociety.com

Mental health inequalities for deaf and disabled people

Mental health inequalities for disabled and deaf people are a significant
problem, according to a report published last week by the London Assembly
Health Committee.

Studies have shown that disabled and deaf people are more likely to
experience common mental health problems, especially anxiety and
depression. Around one in three people with chronic physical impairment
experience a mental health problem, compared to one in four in the wider

Deaf people are twice as likely to suffer from depression as hearing
people, and around 40 per cent of people who lose their sight develop
depression.Deaf people are twice as likely to suffer from depression as
hearing people, and around 40 per cent of people who lose their sight
develop depression.

But there is little data available at a regional level to determine how
prevalent mental ill health is among disabled and Deaf people in London.

The links between physical and sensory impairment and mental health are
complex. But depression and anxiety are not the inevitable consequences of
being, or becoming, a disabled person. Disability rights campaigners have
raised concerns that many, including some health professionals, believe
that depression and physical/sensory impairment go together unavoidably,
especially when the impairment is acquired later in life. This has led to a
lack of focus on the mental health needs of disabled and Deaf people and on
the prevention of avoidable mental health problems.

Eight out of 10 people with a physical impairment were not born with it.
The vast majority become impaired through injury, accident, or illnesses
such as stroke. The prevalence of disability therefore rises with age. This
means that mental health services need to know how to support people who
become disabled later in life, as well as those who are born with

There is likely to be an increase in the number of people living with
impairment in the future.There is likely to be an increase in the number of
people living with impairment in the future.

Rises in the rate of long-term conditions that can lead to disability, such
as diabetes, coupled with rises in life expectancy, mean that people will
be living for longer with disability. For example, diabetes-related sight
loss is the leading cause of vision impairment in working age adults in the
UK. And the number of people with diabetes has risen by 60 per cent in the
UK in the last decade.

The incidence of mental ill health in disabled and Deaf Londoners is likely
to increase unless more is done to support good mental health in this
population group.

Having information about how to manage your own mental health is an
important part of prevention. But information on how to protect and promote
positive mental wellbeing is not always accessible to disabled and Deaf
people. We heard that, other than some mental health services offering
information in large print, there is little more offered to accommodate the
needs of blind and partially sighted people. Services are often advertised
in inaccessible formats, such as posters and leaflets in clinics.
Similarly, blind and partially sighted people often experience problems
receiving information in their preferred format, such as in audio or

Deaf users of British Sign Language (BSL) also report that even basic
information is not routinely available to them in a format that they can
understand. For example, Action on Hearing Loss told us that the NHS
website contains over 900 health videos, but only 1 per cent of these are
inBSL.11 And the increasing reliance on online and digital health promotion
resources means that the one in four disabled adults in the UK who have
never used the internet are at risk of missing out on key information
around mental health support.

The issue can be further compounded by the lack of a shared mental health
vocabulary between health professionals and disabled or Deaf service users.
Contributors to our investigation told us that it can be difficult for some
disabled and Deaf people to recognise the symptoms of depression or anxiety
and to articulate them to people who could offer support. So it is vital
that information on how to recognise mental ill health is made more widely

Prevention and resilience should be at the heart of the Mayor’s mental
health strategies. It is therefore critical that resources and information
are delivered in accessible ways to enable disabled and Deaf people to
benefit. We would welcome confirmation from the London Health Board that
plain English, BSL and audio formats of the Mayor’s mental health
programmes will be made available free of charge to disabled and Deaf

Much of the emphasis in mental health promotion is around staying
physically active and maintaining supportive social networks. Ensuring that
activities and programmes which are disability and Deaf inclusive are more
widely promoted by the Mayor would be a welcome step forward for disabled
and Deaf Londoners.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the London Assembly 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.”

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