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  • Northside West

Cabra transition year students highlight serious health issues

Thursday, 30th May, 2019 7:59am
Cabra transition year students highlight serious health issues

The Holy Family transition year students have a powerful message.

Cabra transition year students highlight serious health issues

The Holy Family transition year students have a powerful message.

A GROUP of transition year students from Holy Family School for the Deaf in Cabra have called on health professionals to listen up.

The 14 deaf teenagers created a powerful presentation to highlight the issues of mental health in the deaf community when they made it through to the national final of the Young Social Innovators of the Year Award earlier this month.

The youngsters are concerned about the lack of Irish Sign Language (ISL) interpreters available to them when seeking help with mental health issues and other medical services.

ISL is recognised as an official language in Ireland, but still many deaf people struggle for access to professional interpreters when visiting doctors and counsellors explained Sarah McMahon of the project team. 

“Our project, and the video we produced, is designed to create awareness of the importance of having professional sign language interpreters available for deaf people who need the support of mental health services,” she said.

Over a quarter (26 percent) of deaf people have mental health issues, according to the students’ video, and they have to battle for specialist interpreters.

Communication barriers and independent access to healthcare are identified as a leading cause of mental health issues among deaf people, as is social exclusion and bullying.

When your first language is ISL, it is very difficult to access ‘talking therapies’, the video points out. It argues that there is a need for trained counsellors with ISL, and even online resources around healthcare and mental health would be more relevant for the deaf community if they were accompanied by a signing service.

According to their teacher, Shirley Higgins, the students selected this social awareness campaign for their Young Social Innovators project believing that equality in society should mean that all people could get health support through their own language.

“These brave young Transition Year students have created a short video called ‘Our Voice Matters’, in the hope of creating awareness among health professionals and health service administrators that will help make a change,” the teacher and ISL tutor says.

The teacher added that the project being short-listed down to the last 30 from all over the country was a source of “tremendous pride” for Holy Family School.

Young Social Innovators is Ireland's largest social awareness and active citizenship and education programme for 15 to 18 year-olds.

Its main goal is to get young people involved in action that helps improve the lives of others in their community.

The Holy Family School in Cabra has become famous for its choir in recent years. Members of the school’s ‘signing group’ have performed at Áras an Uachtaráin, for the Pope in Croke Park, and on the Late Late Toy Show. 

The DeafTones choir that competed on Ireland's Got Talent last year also featured school pupils.

The drive to have their voices heard is a shared ambition of pupils at the Cabra school, teacher Shirley Higgins says.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here