Free online therapy courses released in New Zealand Sign Language – Stuff


Online therapy courses have been translated into sign language to support the mental health of those in the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
Creative agency Deafradio partnered with Just a Thought, a platform providing free online therapy, to translate two courses into New Zealand Sign Language.
The courses teach people how to manage mental health struggles using proven strategies and aim to bridge a gap in access that Deaf and hard of hearing people face.
Deafradio’s director Sonia Pivac, who is Deaf, helped to translate the courses.
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Pivac said she hopes the courses will give the Deaf and hard of hearing community access to support in a way that works for them.
“Despite being an official language for 16 years, access to health information, including mental health, is still rare in NZSL, especially information designed to accompany a viewer through a process or journey,” she said.
"Face-to-face support certainly has its place in the Deaf community, but given that Deaf people have largely missed out on decades of mainstream destigmatisation towards mental illness, being able to access this material privately, online and in your own home, is of real benefit.”
The translated courses are Mixed Depression and Anxiety and Staying on Track – a guide to support your wellbeing during times of stress and uncertainty. Both courses use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help people struggling with anxiety, panic, depression and low self-esteem.
Coalition of Deaf Mental Health Professionals spokeswoman Linda Guirey said mental health information is generally not accessible in NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language), so Deaf people often miss out on critical education and support.
"Recent academic research undertaken in partnership with the Coalition pointed to a lack of Deaf cultural mental health services as being a significant barrier to accessing appropriate support,” she said.
"Given that the self-reported need amongst Deaf people in Aotearoa for support with depression and anxiety is around four-times the national average, the Just a Thought courses could play an important role for many Deaf people."
The translated wellbeing courses can be found on the Just a Thought website.
Just a Thought general manager Charlie David said he hoped the courses will help bridge the gap for the Deaf community for accessible and effective mental health support.
“For the past three years since launching, we’ve been on a mission to make mental wellbeing support available to every New Zealander. The New Zealand Deaf community is no exception,” he said.
"Both courses are free and available online – so they can be accessed anywhere, any time. Removing any further barriers to support.”
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