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Report reveals barriers to mental health services for deaf and disabled people

A report by the London Assembly health committee has highlighted challenges deaf and disabled people face in accessing mental health services.
Mental health barriers

Deaf people trying to access mental health services can have their frustration at communication barriers mistaken for aggression by healthcare professionals, according to a report.

The London Assembly health committee found that disabled and deaf people face considerable difficulty in accessing mental health support.

The report said that GPs are the gateways to most mental health services, but disabled people must overcome challenges, including physical access to GP services and accessible transport links.

Misdiagnosis

Communication barriers between patients and GPs can make it harder to diagnose mental illness or can lead to misdiagnosis, the committee said.

The committee also heard examples of a lack of disability and deaf awareness in front line staff and appointments being refused because people couldnt confirm them

Deaf people trying to access mental health services can have their frustration at communication barriers mistaken for aggression by healthcare professionals, according to a report. 


Disabled and deaf people face difficulties accessing mental health services, according
to the London Assembly health committee. Picture: iStock

The London Assembly health committee found that disabled and deaf people face considerable difficulty in accessing mental health support. 

The report said that GPs are the gateways to most mental health services, but disabled people must overcome challenges, including physical access to GP services and accessible transport links. 

Misdiagnosis

Communication barriers between patients and GPs can make it harder to diagnose mental illness or can lead to misdiagnosis, the committee said.

The committee also heard examples of a lack of disability and deaf awareness in front line staff and appointments being refused because people couldn’t confirm them by phone. 

Deaf and disabled people are more likely to experience poor mental health than the wider population, according to the report. 

Depression

The deaf health charity SignHealth said deaf people are twice as likely to have depression as hearing people. 

The committee recommended that mental health trusts audit how well their services meet the needs of disabled and deaf people. 

Committee chair Onkar Sahota said: ‘Simple changes, like providing a mobile number to text when a deaf person is in a crisis situation, could open up services.’

Further information

Health committee report


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