New Specialist Deaf Service Launched – 14/10/09

A Black Country mental health trust is celebrating the launch of a new national service which provides help and support to deaf children.  

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMHPT) was selected by the National Commissioning Group to be one of four centres in England to deliver a national Deaf service for children up to the age of 18 and their families.  

The Trust will provide mental health services for children and young people who are deaf, or who have parents that are deaf, across central England.  

DWMHPT, which is set to receive £1.2 million funding for the project, joins Trusts in York, London and Taunton to deliver the new national deaf outreach service.  

DWMHPT was selected for the scheme after a successful four-year pilot during which a team of doctors, psychologists, therapists and family support workers from the Trust helped identify, treat and support young people affected by deafness who also suffered from mental ill health.  

Anne Marie Carey, the Trust’s younger persons service manager, said: “This project started because research showed deaf children were not accessing mental health services despite the fact that 40 per cent of deaf children have some form of mental health problem".  

“It is excellent news for residents in Dudley and Walsall because it will mean that these specialist services will be based on their doorstep".  

“It is testament to the excellent work done by our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) during the pilot that we have been selected to carry out this important work.”  

Dr Rob Walker, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Trust’s CAMHS team, played a leading role in DWMHPT’s bid to be a part of the national deaf service.  

He said: “Deaf children are around 1.5 times more likely to develop mental health problems than youngsters who are able to hear. This is due to a range of factors including difficulties in communicating with family, friends and at school and a high occurrence of additional needs associated with the cause of the deafness such as prematurity or Meningitis".  

“Prior to 2004, the only specialist inpatient and outpatient mental health service for deaf children in this country was in London. The pilot project aimed to address this by linking our CAMHS team with one in York and the one London to improve access to specialist services for deaf children with mental ill health".  

“During the pilot, we worked to identify and treat deaf children with mental ill health, as well as provide support for other professionals who may come into contact with these children".  

“The pilot was deemed a success and I am delighted that the National Commissioning Group has decided to remain with our Trust for the delivery of this national service which has now been officially launched.”  

Clinical lead Dr Barry Wright explains: “The aim was to establish a presence in each of the strategic health authorities, and this arrangement does exactly that. It is a truly national service".

“There are really two sides to the new service – support for families and help for professionals such as teachers, and health and social care professionals like psychologists, nurses, psychiatrists and social workers.”