Telemedicine as a treatment for Deaf people with common mental health problems who use British Sign Language: a mixed methods feasibility study

This research concerns Deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) and who experience anxiety and/or depression.

Deaf people are more likely to have poorer mental health than the general population. They face difficulties in accessing services, and their recovery from mental health difficulties is often not as good. In some parts of the UK, Deaf people receive therapy from Deaf professionals in BSL, without an interpreter. But this is not always possible because Deaf people live all over the country and there are very few Deaf therapists.


Exploring more possibilities

One possible solution is for Deaf people to have therapy in BSL via videoconferencing but it is not known if this would be helpful. Therefore, this research study has been set up to find out whether it would be helpful – or not – for Deaf people to have psychological therapy in BSL via videoconferencing. It is not known if this method would be as effective as the Deaf person having face-to-face therapy in person without using a videoconferencing call.

Another potential problem is measuring recovery. Usually a therapist will ask a patient to fill in questionnaires about their mood and how they feel at the start of therapy and at regular intervals to track progress and recovery. These are available in BSL but we do not know if patients will respond differently if they do this ‘live’ in BSL with a therapist or if they do this via a computer in response to a video.

It is also important to find out what patients’ experiences are of health services. Among hearing people there is a questionnaire designed to do this. There is not one for Deaf people that matches their culture and language.