13 September 2013

Australian lecture tour

HYMS Honorary Clinical Professor Barry Wright travelled to Australia this summer for a three week lecture tour.

Professor Wright, who is a Consultant Child and Family Psychiatrist, travelled to Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne with the lecture tour which involved a series of lectures and workshops with child and adolescent mental health professionals across the country, finishing with a workshop and then a keynote speech at the ANZCED 2013 Conference in Melbourne where he discussed child mental health issues in deaf children, and also autism in deaf children.

He also held workshops on the innovative research programme around deaf child mental health being carried out through HYMS and the Leeds and York Partnership Foundation NHS Trust.
This includes research into developing new screening instruments for mental health in deaf children and young people, and also work to better understand the presentation of autism in deaf children, and a large MRC grant to establish new screening and assessment procedures for autism specifically in deaf children.

Deaf Children Australia is a charitable organisation in Australia to promote services for deaf children. It is keen to focus on mental health and invited Barry to Australia to promote the needs of deaf children across Australia.

Deaf children are two to three times more likely to have mental health problems, and this is a consistent finding internationally. Prof Wright discussed and promoted the importance of emotional and psychological development in deaf children, and highlighted the specific mental health needs of deaf children.

Professor Wright is the clinical lead of the National Deaf Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (NDCAMHS) which was nationally commissioned in England in 2009.

Whilst in other parts of the world there are single or dual centre services within specific countries for deaf children (or no service at all), the NDCAMHS in England is the only service in the world where deaf children and their families can access child mental health services within any region of the country (there are ten centres in England).

There are both deaf and hearing professionals with high quality communication facilities in every centre. The service outcomes have evaluated extremely well qualitatively and quantitatively, when independently assessed by the Social Policy Research Unit.

Professor Wright’s visit to Australia was a great success. He carried out six workshops with a wide base of different groups. This included a workshop with 24 profoundly deaf young people from four different schools in Perth. He also ran workshops with large groups of teachers of the deaf, and with child mental health, paediatric and audiology professionals. He made a visit to Canberra (the seat of the Australia Parliament) and visited minsters including the opposition minister for mental health, Senator Concetta Fierravanty- Wells, now in government! His visit to Parliament happened to be on the day that Kevin Rudd ousted Julia Gillard as Prime Minister of the Country. An exciting day to be in the capital, although Prof Wright claims no responsibility!

Professor Wright’s visit to Australia is hopefully a way of spreading good practice and discussing different models for providing services for deaf children. He said: "Whilst we always have more to learn, we are very proud of the high quality services we provide in England for deaf children, and we are keen to help our colleagues around the world as they seek to develop new services".

Barry Wright leading a workshop in Melbourne with an interpreter