Healthy Deaf Minds London: Past, Present, and Future

Healthy Deaf Minds (HDM) was founded in 2000, aimed at raising the awareness of deaf BSL users to mental health issues, in its broadest sense. Since then there have been nearly 100 HDM meetings in central London. There have also been independent meetings in other venues such as Birmingham & Bristol. Topics have covered a wide spectrum: deaf/hearing working relationships, domestic abuse, alcoholism, depression, psychiatric medications, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, etc. Most events have been led by Deaf professionals using British Sign Language (BSL) and sometimes by non-deaf professionals assisted by BSL interpreters. Ordinary Deaf people have been able to access information and ideas in their own language, BSL, and to ask questions and make comments about what they are being told. Access to information is a key aspect of mental wellbeing.

Healthy Deaf Minds London History

From 2000 to 2009, HDM was organised under the banner of the British Society for Mental Health and Deafness (BSMHD), with volunteer Roger Beeson being the founder/organiser. BSMHD withdrew their subsidy in 2010. Roger Hewitt, took over organising meetings for several years. Funding came from charging a small admission fee to cover the costs of room hire. Eventually Martin Glover, supported by Roger Beeson, took over for another eight years. By 2018 events had slowed down, largely because of “volunteer fatigue”. Then the Covid pandemic stopped the regular gatherings.

HDM Future

In a strategic move in early 2023, Roger Beeson and Martin Glover decided to try transferring HDM to a charitable organisation, to ensure that its legacy would continue. Deaf Unity emerged as the perfect fit to carry forward HDM’s important work on mental health and wellbeing. Aligned with Deaf Unity’s broader mission of preparing Deaf individuals for success, we recognized the importance of practical support and information in promoting a happy and fulfilling life.

This new chapter began with the first HDM event since 2018, held on 11th September 2023. The discussion centred around a young person’s perspective at the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) Congress, presented by a BDA Youth representative. We held another event on 13 December 2023 and have more planned for 2024 and beyond.

At Deaf Unity, we are honoured to inherit the legacy of HDM and are committed to continuing its mission well into the future.

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