A new programme has been introduced to improve mental health and well-being for deaf children across Northern Ireland, and close the gap in the provision of mental health services for deaf children.
The Bridging the Gap programme is the first of its kind and has been developed in response to research showing that deaf children and young people are 60 per cent more likely to experience mental health problems than other children. Poor mental health in children is associated with underachievement at school and figures show that 50 per cent of deaf children are failing to get five GCSEs at Grades A to C (including English and Maths) in Northern Ireland.
The programme, an initiative of the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), will include regular sessions to build deaf children’s confidence and independence so that they can meaningfully participate in their community. Sessions for families will also be delivered covering early years support, with a focus on developing communication, parenting skills and empowering parents to make informed choices.
“Deaf children are among the most vulnerable and socially disadvantaged children, but with the right support there is no reason why they cannot achieve as well as other children”, said Mary Dawson, NDCS Deputy Director.
The Jan/Feb 2011 issue of SEN magazine will include a special feature on SEN in Northern Ireland by Professor Tony Gallagher of Queen’s University Belfast.