IAPT in BSL is crucial to enable equal access to psychological therapies for the deaf community who use sign language as their first or preferred language. Following the pilot in the North West 4 further initiatives are underway in the North East, East Midlands, Yorkshire & Humber and the South East Coast. A high number of people, who are born deaf or become deaf at an early age, use sign language to communicate and can find that accessing information in English difficult. The result of the 2009/10 GP Survey showed that there are over 101,000 people in England who use BSL as their first language. IAPT workers that are fluent in BSL and have knowledge and understanding of the cultural and educational needs of the sign language community deliver a fully accessible psychological therapy service everyone. The prevalence of common mental health problems among the Deaf community is ten per cent compared to six per cent within the general population. Historically, there have been a number of challenges in providing mental health services in BSL for Deaf people. Indications are that people from the Deaf community are more likely to be referred direct to specialist tertiary services rather than IAPT services. Further information on the North West pilot can be found on the SignHealth website.
Also, for more information regarding the general health of the Deaf population SignHealth have published the findings of a 5 year research project which can be found on their website.
This report clearly identifies the experiences that our sign language community face on a daily basis when attempting to access the NHS. The evaluation report, Sick Of It report and a useful article by Dr Sarah Powell are available below: