Recovery tools in Mental Health Services: Are they adaptable for Deaf people?

Rebecca Walls, Will Hough, Steve Tathata


The concept of recovery has emerged as a significant paradigm in the field of public mental health services1. A number of recovery tools have been developed and are increasingly being used to support recovery-focused practice and person-centred care. Fundamentally these recovery tools are rooted in a personal recovery model and founded on a philosophy of individual self-determination. It is a misconception by many that the use of sign language is a mixture of signs and gestures created from spoken language. In fact sign language is a language with its own vocabulary and grammatical structure. Yet it appears that Deaf mental health service users and staff are expected to use existing recovery tools that use the concepts and language created for a hearing society with English as a common shared language. This paper will explain the concept of recovery and discuss this in relation to Deaf service users. The use of recovery tools within Deaf in-patient and community Services around the UK, Europe and Australia will be explored through discussion of the use of a questionnaire sent to known Deaf mental health services. The results indicated that the term “Recovery” within Deaf mental health services and recovery tools were relatively unknown outside of the UK. Recovery tools appear to be rarely used in Deaf services, especially those in the community. The overall consensus of respondents was the need for a recovery tool that is specific to the Deaf community. However, consultation is required with Deaf service users and their involvement in developing such a tool is crucial.

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