Free Online Therapy Courses Released In New Zealand Sign Language

Just a Thought has partnered with deaf creative agency Deafradio and with support from the Department for Social Development to offer free online therapy courses to New Zealand’s deaf and hard of hearing community.

A translation of this press release into New Zealand Sign Language is available

Two courses on the Just a Thought platform have been published in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) – which is one of the three official languages ​​in New Zealand, along with Te Reo Māori and English. The courses, Mixed depression and anxiety and Staying on Track – a guide to supporting your well-being in times of stress and uncertaintyare available online and teach learners how to cope with mental health challenges using proven strategies based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The release of these courses coincides with International Week of the Deaf, which runs from September 19-25. A key theme this week is health for allwhich aims to draw attention to the barriers, stigma and discrimination that deaf people face when accessing health-related information and services.

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Coalition of Deaf Mental Health Professionals spokesperson Linda Guirey says the key to accessing and providing mental health support for the deaf is language, and that mental health information is generally not accessible in the NZSL, so deaf people often missing out on important education and support.
Linda says: “Deaf people have a distinct culture, and for most deaf people, English is a second language, so accessing complex information in English written for mainstream society is not a cultural or linguistic match and is often inadequate.

“Recent academic research conducted in collaboration with the Coalition1 has indicated that a lack of cultural mental health services for the deaf poses a significant barrier to accessing appropriate support. Given that the self-reported need for depression and anxiety support among deaf people in Aotearoa is approximately four times the national average2, the Just a Thought courses could play an important role for many deaf people.”

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Deafradio director Sonia Pivac, who is deaf, has assisted in the production of these courses as a cultural consultant and translator.

She hopes the courses will give people in her community confidence and autonomy in managing their own mental health, as well as easy access to support in a way that works for them.

“Although it has been an official language for 16 years, access to health information, including mental health, is still rare in NZSL, particularly information designed to guide a viewer through a process or journey. Personal support certainly has its place in the deaf community, but as the deaf have largely missed decades of mainstream destigmatization of mental illness, having access to this material in private, online and at home is a real benefit.”

“Many of the concepts and resources in the courses were of great value, our Seeflow translation team learned a lot working on this project,” says Sonia.

Charlie David, General Manager of Just a Thought, hopes these courses will help bridge the gap for the deaf community in terms of accessible and effective mental health support.

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“For the past three years since launch, our goal has been to make mental wellbeing support available to every New Zealander. The New Zealand deaf community is no exception.”

“Both courses are free and available online, so they can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Eliminate other barriers to support.”

A number of free wellbeing resources have also been translated into NZSL and are available on the Just a Thought website.

To view the free resources or to enroll in any of the courses please visit:

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