Paul Stemman

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What to do if you think you might need some support

If you are concerned about your mental health there are things you can do. If you have a friend or person you feel you can turn to, then tell them. Often, just sharing how you feel can be a big help.

If you urgently need someone to ‘talk’ to, you can now text (SMS) the Samaritans on 07725 909090 or e-mail jo@samaritans.org.

Your GP is normally the first person to see. They will be able to assess your mental health and discuss what the next step is. Your doctor may feel they can offer the necessary support, or they might refer you to someone else. Possible next steps are:

Medication – doctors frequently prescribe medication for a wide range of mental health problems. There are a group of drugs commonly used for the treatment of depression. These drugs are known as SSRIs and include Prozac. Whatever medication you might be prescribed, it is important that the doctor arranges to assess you again soon.

Counselling or therapy – you may be referred to a counsellor or therapist. This might be someone who works in the GP practice, or someone you will have to see elsewhere. With a counsellor, you are normally given the chance to talk about your thoughts and feelings, and explore these. Different therapists will take different approaches. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is becoming increasingly popular. CBT often involves just a few short sessions that focus on a ‘problem’ and gives you strategies to cope with problems.

The BDA also run a counselling service for Deaf people. They will help you find a therapist and try to get your Primary Care Trust to pay for the therapy.

Exercise – some enlightened doctors are now beginning to prescribe exercise for some patients who are depressed. There is a growing body of evidence that says physical exercise can be effective in cases of depression.

Referral to a mental health service – the NHS has special Trusts that just deal with mental health. They tend to see people whose mental health problem cannot easily be dealt with by a GP or practice nurse. The staff working for mental health trusts have more expertise and knowledge of mental health difficulties. They have special in-patient units for people that are very unwell, and community teams that support patients who still live at home.

Specialist Deaf services – within the UK there are three specialist services for Deaf adults experiencing mental distress. These services are part of bigger mental health trusts, and the staff have expertise in mental health. Everyone working there uses sign language, and is aware of Deaf culture. This means that in some cases these are the best places to assess and support you.

You can contact the three Deaf centres yourself, or ask someone else to support you. The London service will accept self-referrals, but for the Birmingham service you will need to be referred by your GP. There are centres in London, Birmingham and Manchester. These are their contact details:

London
National Deaf Service, Old Church, 146a Bedford Hill, Balham, London, SW12 9HW
Voice: 020 8675 2100
Minicom: 020 8675 2200
Videophone: 020 8675 9707
Fax: 020 8675 2266
http://www.nationaldeafservices.com/

Birmingham
Denmark House, Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, Mendelsohn Way, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2QZ
Voice: 0121 301 2450
Fax: 0121 301 2451
http://www.bsmht.nhs.uk/

Manchester
John Denmark Unit, Bury New Road, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 3BL
Voice: 0161 772 3400
Minicom: 0161 772 3407
Fax: 0161 798 5853
http://www.bstmht.nhs.uk/C1/Deaf%20Services/default.aspx

There is also a specialist service for Deaf children and young people under 18 who have an emotional or mental health problem. The service sees children in their school or at home, and works with the family. The team also has an in-patient unit in South London for children needing intensive support, or a complex assessment.

Deaf Child and Family Service, High Trees, Springfield University Hospital, 61 Glenburnie Road, London, SW17 7DJ
Voice: 020 8682 6925
Minicom: 0208 682 6950
Fax: 020 8682 6461
E-mail: cornerhouse@swlstg-tr.nhs.uk
http://www.nationaldeafservices.com/

The BDA have a nationwide counselling service, for people to talk/sign directly with a counsellor (without the need for an interpreter). You can contact the service if you feel you need counselling support.

BDACS, 13 Wilson Patten Street, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 1PG

Voice: 01925 652520
Minicom: 01925 652529
Videophone: 01925 630169
Fax: 01925 652526
Email: yvonnet@signcommunity.org.uk