Opening doors for Deaf people with mental health needs

Strategies, resources and relationships making mainstream services accessible.

The 14th International Mental Health Conference would like to thank Dr Francine Hanley, Research Fellow, Australian Institute for Primary Care and Ageing who presented this co-authored paper at the recent conference held 5-6 August at the Outrigger Surfers Paradise.

Dr Hanley discussed the findings of an exploratory project designed to understand the pathways to ongoing access available to Deaf people with mental health needs in Victoria.

Vicdeaf is the lead agency for advocacy, referral and support for Deaf adults in Victoria and client services staff plays an essential role in making ongoing access possible whatever a client’s point of entry into the system. However, as the system has come about without any thought of how a Deaf person might navigate through it or maintain links with it, there are pathways that appear to the Deaf person and this advocacy agency to shut down.

The presentation outlined the challenges to ongoing access as they play out in service settings. The findings were presented as examples from service settings and highlighted priorities toward making ongoing access by Deaf people better and looked at the continuum of care and focus on crucial points in the continuum that are crucial to better engagement of people in the Deaf community and to enabling ongoing participation by Deaf people in their own recovery.

Dr Francine Hanley is a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute for Primary Care & Ageing (AIPCA) in the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University. She completed her Psychology undergraduate and PhD at Victoria University where she developed interest in the critique of research methodologies. She worked at the Australian Research Centre for Sex, Health and Society as a Research Officer during her postgraduate training, and was later appointed Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health at the University of Melbourne where she developed a literature review of best practices in psychosocial rehabilitation for the Australian Veteran population. Since commencing at AIPCA in 2009 Francine has supported a number of projects and has established a research partnership between AIPCA and Vicdeaf that focuses on questions around improving access to appropriate mental health services by Vicdeaf clients.

Co-author, Helen Kennedy is currently employed as a counsellor at Vicdeaf, a non-profit organisation that is the primary source of reference, referral, advice and support for Deaf adults in Victoria. She has a postgraduate degree in counselling and human relations and a B.Ed in Deafness Studies from the University of Melbourne. Her work involves counselling support to signing Deaf adults that present with a range of mental health issues. She also provides longer term psychotherapy to Deaf adults in her private practice. Prior to her work at Vicdeaf, Ms Kennedy was based in community health and worked in the field of early intervention with Deaf children and their families. Helen was awarded her Masters in Psychoanalytic Theory in 2007 and has been working in the field of applied psychoanalysis in her private practice where she consults to various service providers and practitioners in her work at Vicdeaf.

Podcasts of most of the presentations from this conference are now available on our website CLICK HERE