A unique programme has been launched by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to improve mental health and well-being for deaf children across Northern Ireland.
The Bridging the Gap programme also hopes to remedy the lack of provision of mental health services for deaf children.
The initiative — launched yesterday at Stormont — is understood to be the first of its kind. It was developed in response to Department of Health research which showed that deaf children and young people were 60% more likely to experience mental health problems than other children.
Poor mental health in children is associated with underachievement at school.
Figures from the Department of Education show that 50% of deaf children are failing to get five GCSEs at Grades A to C (including English and Maths) in Northern Ireland.
Mary Dawson, NDCS Deputy Director, Projects and Services Development, said: “For too long deaf children in Northern Ireland have been overlooked.
“The Bridging the Gap programme aims to overcome the current gap in the provision of mental health services for deaf children.
“NDCS and partner organisations across Northern Ireland will be working together to ensure all deaf children and their families receive good quality support, advice and access to services as and when they require.”
The charity says that deaf children, unlike other children, are currently not accessing mental health services due to a lack of specialist provision and communication support.
For more information, families of deaf children and professionals working with them can email BridgingtheGap@ndcs.org.uk