At SignHealth we are worried that the Coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected the Deaf community, and that many of the issues we have faced may have been hidden.
In August and September, SignHealth conducted a survey asking deaf people about the impacts of the pandemic on mental health, healthcare and information accessibility. 93 deaf people responded to our survey.
How has Coronavirus impacted deaf people?
Survey Results: British Sign Language
The survey results are worrying, and highlight the ongoing challenges faced by deaf people during the pandemic and the inadequate support received from the government.
“We are very concerned that 35% of deaf respondents indicated that the pandemic has had a major negative impact on their mental health and 61% highlighting anxiety as what has impacted them most.” – Christopher Reid, Director of Operations at SignHealth.
“SignHealth provides a range of services across England that support Deaf people’s mental health but these survey results show us that much more needs to be done. We are calling on government to provide an in-person BSL Interpreter at Coronavirus briefings, and we appeal to all providers of health services to meet their obligations under the Accessible Information Standard and the Equality Act. At SignHealth we are developing more research into Deaf mental health and we will continue to work closely with other Deaf organisations so that together we can make a difference.” – Rebecca Mansell, Director of Communications and Fundraising at SignHealth.
In response to the crisis, SignHealth set up BSL Health Access with InterpreterNow, providing a video relay interpreting service, free and universally available, 24 hours a day, for communication with Deaf people in health settings, funded by their reserves.
James Watson-O’Neill, SignHealth’s Chief Executive, said: “I am so proud of the work that we have done at SignHealth to step up during the pandemic, particularly the launch of BSL Health Access. Many deaf people and deaf charities have been working tirelessly and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them as we work together to support our community.”
It is World Mental Health Day on 10th October and we believe this year’s theme, ‘Mental Health for All: Greater Investment, Greater Access’, provides the ideal opportunity to highlight the issues faced by Deaf people. We want to ensure access improves for everyone and that Deaf people with mental health challenges are sufficiently supported during the pandemic and beyond.
Support in the midst of the crisis
SignHealth has taken on new activities and services to ensure we can support the health and wellbeing of Deaf people under the shadow of a global pandemic.Our Coronavirus Response
Watch, share and download the latest COVID-19 information and guidance available in BSL.