Project overview

An overview of the 12 month project and the background of how it started.

Deaf Mental Health and Wellbeing – What will Platform do?

For many years people and organisations have been advocating for improved access for Deaf people to mental health and addiction (MH&A) support.  In 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) agreed to fund a role to determine:

  • what changes are needed to improve wellbeing and access and choice for Deaf people who experience MH&A issues.
  • what ‘quick wins’ can be actioned immediately to improve access

Platform is hosting this work which will be led by Jo Witko.


The project will focus on five key areas (discussed in more detail on the project goals page):

diamond light green


diamond yellow v2

COVID-19 and lockdown

diamond teal

MH&A promotion and literacy

diamond dark teal

MH&A Workforce Development

diamond yellow v2

MH&A Service Development

Jo Witko with a NZSL translation of the project

Why is this work important?

Deaf people face barriers at all stages in the health and mental health system as most practitioners have little experience of sign language users. 

Research has found the Deaf community has a higher risk and incidence of mental distress, a higher need for mental health services and a perception that current mental health services are inaccessible and inadequate. This is why we need change.

Deaf culture and language are central to the wellbeing of Deaf people. A lack of experience and understanding by practitioners can lead to a misdiagnoses and long periods of costly, ineffective care or simply no support. 


Background about this project

The purpose of this paper is to provide context about Platform’s involvement and role, and our aspirations for the Deaf mental health and addiction work programme.

This paper has been translated into NZSL with the following series of videos (a combined clip is at the bottom).

Deaf mental health programme hosted by Platform


Working with Deaf Aotearoa


What have we done


He Ara Oranga


What we will deliver


How will we deliver this programme of work


Video of all six clips combined


Other Deaf mental health and addiction work