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Australian Guidelines for interpreters working in mental health settings

A research study into patient and health professional interactions within culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, has led to findings that show specialised interpreters can improve mental health outcomes, it was announced by Monash University, in December last year. 

Dr Jim Hlavac led the Monash University research team, which examined the factors at play when an interpreter is involved in a mental health scenario, and described their role as critical in assisting professionals working effectively to help Non English speaking patients in mental health interactions.

"The research has a number recommendations to allow professionals to manage interactions that will assist interpreters and health practitioners, leading to better outcomes for vulnerable patients," said Dr Hlaviac.

The findings of the research project show that the role of the interpreter in assisting to build a relationship between the mental health professional and the patient is critical.

"In order to be effective," Dr Hlavac writes, "interpreters need to acquire a knowledge base relevant to mental health interactions."

Language loop is a Victorian Language Services provider, that commissioned researchers from Monash University to undertake and develop mental health guidelines for interpreters working in mental health settings.

The Australian Guidelines for Interpreters Working in Mental Health Settings was published in December last year, by Monash University T & I Researchers, the Victorian Government and Language Loop.

The Guidelines are intended as an aid for interpreters, so they can work optimally in mental health interactions between mental health professionals and patients.

Language Loop CEO Elizabeth Compton said the new insights in the guidelines are key to overcoming language barriers.

"The Guidelines will assist interpreters to become better skilled to help practitioners ensure mental health services are accessible for all by providing a pathway for our diverse community," Ms Compton said.

The Guidelines covers definitions, protocols, ethical considerations, practices, self care in mental health interpreting, knowledge about the subject, patients rights, legal terms, tribunals and legislation.

Based on this research, Monash University has developed a specialist course a for interpreters. 

The Guidelines have been endorsed by AUSIT (Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators) and ASLIA (Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association).

Links and more information

Summary of details about the study 

Mental Heath Guidelines for Interpreters
Prepared by Dr Jim Hlavac, Translation and Interpreting Studies, Monash University.

Download a copy of the study. 

The role of Language Loop and Mental Health Interpreters in CALD Communities

by Jenna Gray


Published: 15/02/2018