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Counselling Awareness

Improving the mental health and wellbeing of deaf and deafblind people in Scotland.

This project aimed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of deaf and deafblind people in Scotland.

In 2008 we were awarded a two year grant from the Big Lottery Fund for this project. In early 2010 we received a further award from The Big Lottery Fund Recession Fund. The project closed in  January 2011.

By raising awareness of counselling amongst deaf and deafblind community members, the project will help to increase confidence in accessing counselling thus improving overall mental health and wellbeing.

Within the health profession, awareness will also be raised of the issues faced by deaf and deafblind people when attempting to access counselling services.

Our earlier Counselling Training Project (2004 – 2007, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government) identified a lack of understanding amongst the health profession of the counselling needs of deaf and deafblind people and also discovered a reluctance amongst the deaf and deafblind communities to seek support mainly because of their low awareness of counselling.

Many GPs are still unable to advise deaf people effectively due to communication difficulties. Furthermore, GPs do not know where to refer their deaf patients for specialist counselling that is available from the few counsellors with the skills to meet their language and communication needs.

The project will equip deaf and deafblind people, GPs and other health professionals with knowledge and skills so that deaf and deafblind people’s mental health and wellbeing will be improved.

The additional funding will see us broaden our focus to assist people with financial difficulties due to the recession. This will include working with jobcentres, citizens advice bureaux, debt counselling services and credit unions to make their services more accessible.

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Nine counsellors in Scotland are accessible to deaf and deafblind people. Either they are themselves Deaf BSL users, or if hearing, are qualified at least to Level Two BSL and are deaf aware.

During the Counselling Training Project it became apparent that GPs were unaware of the needs of deaf and deafblind people when it came to counselling and that most mainstream services were inaccessible.

At the start of the project, Community Health Partnerships (CHP’s) in Scotland were contacted for their help and advice on how to best contact GPs. Those who replied either sent information out on our behalf or provided a list of contacts.
GPs, mainstream counsellors and counselling organisations were then sent a questionnaire asking about their accessibility to deaf and deafblind people. They were also asked if they would be interested in attending free Deaf and Deafblind Awareness Training sessions.

Training sessions were held in Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Dumfries, Aberdeen, Perth, Kilmarnock, Hawick and Dunfermline. The response to the sessions was overwhelming and the feedback very positive. Sessions were opened up to other health professionals and social workers.

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