Signal Tinnitus Support
Who are we?
Signal Tinnitus Support came into being in 2014, when we became the only charity providing a dedicated tinnitus support service in Shropshire.
Signal work with the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital (SaTH) NHS Trust’s Audiology department and the British Tinnitus Association to provide specialist tinnitus support across the county. The service is managed by member of staff, alongside a group of trained volunteers planning and delivering the support.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term for the sensation of hearing a sound in the absence of any external sound. These sounds can take on many different forms: some people experience a ringing, others a whistling a rushing.
One in every eight people will experience tinnitus of some kind in their lifetime. For many people it is mild and may even not be noticeable except in quiet environments. However, for about 5% of the population tinnitus can be extremely distracting and make it difficult to lead a normal life, to work and to enjoy the company of others or a banging sound. Some even report hearing music playing.
How is it treated?
It is always advisable to speak to your doctor if you feel that you may have tinnitus. The doctor can refer you to specialist services. There are hearing therapists across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin’s Audiology department who can advise and support you.
Although there is no known cure, there are a number of ways of managing the conditions. The sound of tinnitus can be masked by white noise machines, CDs playing music, or simply the radio. Other methods focus on changing the emotional reaction to the noise that is heard, and relaxation therapy, cognitive type therapy and mindfulness medicine have been shown to help.
Learning about tinnitus and understanding what is happening can also reduce the stress and anxiety that can make the condition worse. Of course, support groups also play a big role in helping people cope.
What do we do?
We offer a range of activities, services and groups within our Signal Tinnitus Support project. We hope that there is something to suit everybody’s needs when it comes to managing the experience of tinnitus.
Advice, Signposting and Guidance
Selected staff members and all of our volunteers are trained by the British Tinnitus Association and Signal to ensure we are all able to provide advice and guidance to you that is suitable for your situation. It is important to remember that we are not medically trained and cannot provide medical advice. We can, however, provide emotional and social support, signposting to other services and a listening ear. We have a stock of flyers, information booklets and postcards from the British Tinnitus Association that we can post out to you.
Signal also has a small selection of demonstration equipment such as pillow speakers and sound therapy systems that we can loan out to you so that you can try-before-you-buy.
Peer Support Groups
Support groups allow people living with tinnitus to come together and provide each other with support and encouragement. Support groups are key as the support comes from somebody who really understands the challenges people experiencing tinnitus may face. Here you can not only exchange your stories and share anxieties and worries, but also talk about their own coping strategies and ways in which you can learn to live well with your tinnitus. A problem shared is a problem halved, so they say, and meeting up with people who understand the problem is vital.
One of our volunteers described the value of Peer Support Groups well:
“It’s actually rather a wonderful magic trick, that if you’re coming from the right place, a word of reassurance, can outperform courses of tablets and changes of attitude in lots of others way. That’s why support groups are so valuable… it might be an odd word, and you can feel the switch go and suddenly feel better, and not even quite know how that circumstance arose. I think that’s quite magical and probably the best possible treatment.”
Support Groups with a Speaker
Every quarter, Signal Tinnitus Support hold an additional peer support group where a guest speaker will discuss an element of tinnitus treatment, research, therapy or their experience with you. Topics that have covered in past support groups with a guest speaker include treatments recommended by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA), such as the BTA, Cognitive Behavioural therapy and local audiology departments. We want you to have access to as much unbiased information as possible, so we also provide speakers from those subjects that are often in uncharted territory when thinking about treating tinnitus such as art therapy, hypnotherapy or reflexology.
One-to-one Peer Support
If you are newly diagnosed or find groups a little bit daunting, then we can match you up with one of our volunteers that can offer some one-to-one tinnitus support. Your volunteer will look at what you want to achieve, whether that is better sleep, an ability to focus more or reducing your anxiety, and you will work together on an action plan to achieve this. You can go at your own pace, and you will revisit your plan after an agreed time-frame to see if you have improved in the area that you wanted to.
To find out more about Signal Tinnitus Support, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01743 358 356.