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Posted on Mar 1 2023 by Fiona Bailey

A deaf patient, who had an alcohol dependency problem, has bravely spoken to the BBC about his drinking, which has been broadcast on national television.

Currently based within the St Andrew’s Healthcare’s community housing, he decided to openly share his experience with the programme See Hear as producers were investigating alcohol misuse within the deaf community.

To protect his identity, an actor appeared on screen to tell his story on the programme, which is predominately for deaf people and is broadcast on BBC Two, the first Wednesday of every month at 8am.

The patient said: “When I started drinking, I would just have one, then two. That became three, four and it continued from there.

“I’d drink until I blacked out. Drinking helped me escape my pain. I was suffering with my mental health back then. I kept drinking until I realised when I woke up the next morning that I couldn’t  remember anything that had happened. This happened again and again. I realised I had a drinking problem

“Before, when I hit rock bottom, I had to move back in to live with my parents. They tried to help make me better but I wouldn’t let them. I Ioved the feeling of being drunk. It helped me escape my past trauma. I was in my own world drinking, I didn’t care about anyone or anything.”

During the interview, the patient then went on to describe how he was sectioned, which is why he became a patient at the Charity.

The Men's Mental Health Deaf Service is the largest UK medium secure service for deaf men aged between 18 and 65 years old.

With research suggesting that 40 per cent per cent of the deaf or hard of hearing population are affected by mental health issues, compared with 25 per cent of the hearing population, it is a much-needed service.

The ward accepts patients with a wide range of diagnosis including mental illness, learning disability, brain injury, autism spectrum disorder or personality disorder.

Over a third of the nursing team are deaf and all staff and patients are trained in BSL ensuring greater engagement within the unit and participation in therapy.

He said: “Now I have face to face therapy with British Sign Language (BSL) support. It’s good because it helps me to share all the things that were a problem in my past which were linked to my drinking. It really helps unpack the issues, which is good. Also, now I’m easing back into the community while I’m in hospital, it feels good to make connections with people again.”

Having watch the episode and hearing what the patient at St Andrew’s had to say has made his healthcare team at the Charity very proud of his far he has come.

Dr Alexander Hamilton, who is the patient’s Consultant Psychiatrist, said: “This was a big deal for this patient and we’re all so enormously proud of how far he has come and for choosing to speak out about his experience. It was not easy for him to revisit some of the more difficult memories he had from his drinking days, but he did it. He wanted to do it as he was hopeful that sharing what he has been through might help somebody else.”

To watch the episode, click here.