Project Description

Positive Signs: Deafness and Mental Health

Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership

An older person in a hat smiles while working in a carpentry workshop JO'S STORY An older person in a hat smiles while working in a carpentry workshop SAM'S STORY An older person in a hat smiles while working in a carpentry workshop POSITIVE MENTAL
A tired person fumbles with an alarm clock while in bed
A person in a hoodie and jacket browses refrigerated drinks in a corner shop
A person wearing hearing aids looks at a computer screen in their bedroom
Over the shoulder of a person wearing hearing aids, a computer with an online BSL interpreter service open on screen
A person in sporty cycling gear cycles up a path, past trees next to a river

summary of brief

Following the success of our prior work with the Glasgow Health and Inequalities Commission, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership tendered for a new participatory video project, built on a similar model to our delivery for the Commission. They incorporated a requirement for a facilitated screening, citing the value of this process for extending and sharing learning.

For the new piece of work, GCHSCP had gathered evidence that a significant proportion of the Deaf community in Scotland experience mental health issues, whilst at the same time face barriers to accessing mental health support. Research found that people who are Deaf are four times more likely to develop mental health problems than the general population and that loneliness and isolation are the norm for many Deaf BSL users.

our approach

Through our many years of working in co-production with people with lived experience, we know that people’s sense of identity and their ability to communicate their experiences on their own terms is crucial to their mental health and wellbeing. We are committed to supporting people on the margins to be heard and to prompt a response from public agencies and decision-makers in affecting positive social change.

We created a training opportunity for a Community Advisor, who was Deaf and a BSL user, to join our production team for the project. The Advisor used their own lived experience to carry out peer research within the deaf community and co-facilitated script development sessions with a group of people who were Deaf. The group channelled their experiences to develop two contrasting characters, with differing experiences of accessing mental health support.


The project resulted in a series of short films titled ‘Positive Signs’, including drama pieces, a short documentary and a discussion-based, informational video to demonstrate pathways to mental health support for people who are Deaf.

We concluded the project with two facilitated screenings, which brought together d/Deaf community members with GCHSCP and health & care professionals, to identify how the films can be used to gain a better understanding of the experiences of Deaf community members, the support strategies that can be implemented, and the practical ways in which the videos can be used to further learning.

The films formed part of a training tool for Deaf Awareness sessions with NHS staff and were used in the development of training for interpreters working in mental health settings.

We were able to link the GCHSCP team with our specialist mental health BSL interpreter contact, whose doctoral research is exploring the dynamics of interpreting in mental health care, to consult on this training.

Feedback from the distribution of the films was fed into the GCHSCP equality group.

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