A group of woman recently got together to create a unique place for Deaf women to be able to discuss their health issues in a secure all-female environment on social media. BDN spoke to Louise-Pink Dewis, the founder of the popular Deaf Women Health UK Facebook group.
Social media has revolutionised social interaction among Deaf people. The number of apps with video communication is increasing and contact with the wider Deaf community is available instantly like never before.
Another benefit of this new easier communication is that like-minded people can now link up across the internet and share their experiences of things they would previously have had to deal with alone.
One such example is in the area of women’s health. Sharing experiences and finding out that you are not alone are important benefits of the new Deaf Women Health UK private Facebook group.
This new place to go for Deaf women to share their experiences on health issues was set up last Christmas by Louise-Pink Dewis. The group currently has around 3,500 members.
The group urges Deaf women to share their health concerns with other Deaf women.
Apart from Louise, there is also a six strong admin team who help maintain a positive atmosphere within the group and offer support to members should they need it.
Louise told BDN about the idea for the group: “I wanted to be able to talk about women’s related health but I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my health issues in other groups where some members are men. I felt there was a need to be able to have private conversations with women about women’s health issues”
The group’s administrators are charged with making sure all members are female. They also use the services of a Deaf counsellor and a Deaf student doctor.
Louise was shocked by the response she got when the group went live just after Christmas. “We had female members joining in huge numbers in the first 48 hours. I couldn’t believe it. It was very successful. All the ladies seemed to feel comfortable sharing their health issues within the group.
“I quickly got the admin team to work together and share ideas about what health related topics to talk about in the group and to raise health awareness”
Deaf Women Health UK has, in the short time it has existed, broken down some of the barriers for Deaf women in terms of communicating and sharing their health concerns. “What we offer didn’t exist before for Deaf women. Most online advice is in English which isn’t the first language for most Deaf women. The group now gives them the chance to access information from videos and share their own information too. Better awareness saves lives. Deaf people are more at risk due to lack of awareness about their health.” says Louise.
The types of issues discussed within the group have been wide-ranging. “Most talk about mental health, the menopause and contraception. We have given women the opportunity to understand better. Talking to someone with a similar issue allows you to compare experiences or even approach things in a different way.
“For example in the area of mental health we have had a member explain what a personality disorder means. Another member explained their menopause symptoms and how they deal with them and on contraception one has written about what it’s like to live with a coil.”
The group gives women a valuable opportunity to talk about their health issues but they will always insist that members go to see their doctor or a health professional if they are at all worried. “One member felt something was not right and other members encouraged her to go to see a doctor. She did and later told us in a video that she had had a mini stroke.
I strongly believe the advice of the group may have saved this member’s life.” says Louise.
There is also a Deaf Men Health UK private Facebook group, founded by Richard Carter. They only have around 1,000 members so far. Louise says: “I have heard that it is harder for men to open up about health issues. I do hope that one day they realise it’s useful and can open up a bit more. It could save their lives.”
Louise sees her group going from strength to strength. “I’m so pleased to see women really interested in the group and I hope it will keep going for as long as possible. When I first set it up I never thought it would reach 3,000 members and be this successful. It’s amazing and I would like to say thank you to all the lady members and the admin team for keeping it going.”