NHS Awards Contract to Mental Health Trust – 11/12/08

A mental health trust covering Dudley and Walsall has been awarded a national contract worth more than £1 million to provide help and support to Deaf children.

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMHPT) has been 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, will join 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 quite a coup for Dudley and Walsall to be awarded this funding because the National Commissioning Group could have chosen to base the service anywhere in the West Midlands.

“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.”

Ms Carey added: “I am particularly pleased for Dr Walker as he has been working on this project for a long time and it has now come to fruition.

“He is very passionate about helping children with Deafness who are suffering from mental health problems. Dr Walker’s interest in this particular area developed when he was a junior doctor and he has spent the last 10 years of his professional career working towards improving specialist services for Deaf youngsters with mental ill health.”