Today, to mark World Mental Health Day (10 October), a new report by UK charity Action on Hearing Loss highlights the growing body of research linking mental health and hearing loss – with one study revealing older people are more than twice as likely to develop depression than those without hearing loss.
More than 10 million people in the UK have some form of hearing loss and two-fifths (42 per cent) of those over 50 years old. Evidence shows that losing your hearing can result in unemployment, isolation from friends and family and even a trauma reaction.
The charity’s report details the significant barriers hard of hearing people face to gain the support they need, meaning mental health problems go undetected and untreated.
Action on Hearing Loss Senior Researcher Laura Matthews said: ‘Decades of research show a clear link between hearing loss and mental health and yet mental health services are often in accessible for deaf people. As a charity we are concerned there is such little recognition by audiology services for the need to support people with a hearing loss emotionally.
‘Action on Hearing Loss is calling on the NHS to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services for adults who lose their hearing to ensure everyone is offered the health services they need and to ensure mental health services are accessible.’
Hearing therapists, available through Audiology departments, should provide the necessary rehabilitation and support for adults with hearing difficulties yet, last year, a quarter of NHS trusts in England did not have a hearing therapist in post or could provide a referral to one.
Action on Hearing Loss, as the UK’s largest deaf charity, is backing an effective, holistic hearing loss rehabilitation process, including the provision of hearing aids and cochlear implants, access to communication training and lipreading classes, as well as emotional support through hearing therapists.
Action on Hearing Loss is the charity working for a world where hearing loss doesn’t limit or label people, where tinnitus is silenced – and where people value and look after their hearing.
World Mental Health Day takes place every year. It’s led by the World Federation for Mental Health as a call to healthcare organisations, professionals and the general public to raise awareness of a particular issue within mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) joins in supporting the initiative, which this year is themed around ‘Mental health and older adults’.
For further information about Action on Hearing Loss or to become a member, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk, contact the Action on Hearing Loss Information Line on 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org