NHS Lothian welcomes a national first

The deaf community in Lothian is set to benefit from a new deaf community mental health service.

Public Health Minster, Shona Robison, launched the new NHS Lothian Deaf Community Mental Health Service today (19.11.08) at Deaf Action, Edinburgh.

NHS Lothian’s Deaf Community Mental Health Service has been developed in partnership with Deaf Action and the deaf community.

This pioneering partnership is the first specialist mental heath service in Scotland aimed at meeting the needs of the Deaf community (deaf, deafblind and deafened people).

Charles Winstanley, Chair, NHS Lothian said:


“I am delighted that NHS Lothian is launching this pioneering service, which is the first of its kind in Scotland. It demonstrates our commitment to improving mental health services for everyone, and reducing social exclusion wherever possible.”


Public Health Minister Shona Robison said:
“Community mental health services play a valuable role in providing support, close to home, for people who experience mental ill-health and their carers and families.
“This innovative new service within NHS Lothian will offer support specifically for the deaf community, ensuring that those who also experience mental health problems receive high quality specialist help and support.”
Linda Irvine, Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategic Programme Manager, NHS Lothian, said:
“This innovative service is aimed at supporting our deaf community, by recognising that deaf people have special needs when it comes to accessing appropriate mental health care.
“Through effective partnership working this service will allow NHS Lothian to continue to develop and deliver appropriate and accessible care for deaf people with mental health problems.”
Liz Scott Gibson, Director of Deaf Action stated:
“For too long, people who are deaf have been marginalised from mental health care services. For many, the inability to communicate easily with health care professionals has caused additional distress.
“This new and unique initiative is to be welcomed as a positive response to the challenge of ensuring that deaf people are no longer excluded from receiving the support and treatment they need.”
The service, based at Deaf Action’s head office, is made up of a community mental health nurse and a senior occupational therapist. The team will offer service users support and advice in a range of areas, such as medication, understanding mental health illnesses, available support, recovery, everyday living and employment.
The service will primarily be delivered through the outpatient clinics of mental health teams where service users can link into sector consultant psychiatrists and other members of the mental health teams and services. However service users will also be able to access support at a suitable location of their choice, such as clinics, GP surgeries or in their own homes.
The team will work closely with the local social services, across the four local authority areas, to provide integrated health and social care services for service users.
People from the Deaf community can be referred to the service by wide range of health and social care professionals, such as General Practitioners and Deaf Action social workers.
This service aims to raise awareness among the Deaf community on mental health issues.