One of the principles of the Mental Health Act 2014 states that “persons receiving mental health services should have their individual needs (whether as to culture, language, communication, age, disability, religion, gender, sexuality or other matters) recognised and responded to”.
Consequently, it is the responsibility of all service providers and organisations to facilitate access to interpreting services. Part of this responsibility is ensuring that consumers and their families be made aware that interpreting services are available when they are having their first contact with a service provider.
In the following video, Peter, a Regional Community Managed Mental Health Service Manager, reflects on the importance of facilitating access to interpreters, and strategies used at an organsational level to support this.
Visibility: Letting consumers know interpreting services are available
By prominently displaying the interpreter symbol in waiting areas and interview rooms, organisations pro-actively create an environment in which consumers feel comfortable requesting interpreting services.
Organisations can also display a poster of languages allowing for consumers to easily alert to their preferred language.
Routine screening: Integrating questions on the need for interpreters in screening
The need for an interpreter isn’t always blatant or obvious, as some clients may be unaware of the service or refrain from requesting an interpreter. By systematically screening for the need for an interpreter, service providers can make the service accessible all the while providing care that is culturally responsive to consumer needs. This creates a culture in the service where there is an expectation that consumers and carers are asked about their need for an interpreter.
It is recommended that screening for interpreting services be completed at the point of initial contact. In other words, the consumer’s needs should be assessed before their first appointment, as an interpreter may be required for this encounter.
We address appropriate screening questions in a in the steps section of the resource.
Literacy: Knowing organisational policies and procedure on booking interpreters
It is the responsibility of service providers to be informed of their organisation’s policies and procedures on booking interpreters. If this information is not made easily available, it is encouraged that service providers seek the information from managers or supervisors and relay it back to all team members to facilitate future bookings.
Depending on the organisation, there are various channels through which service providers can access interpreters.
Please refer to the language services policies and booking procedures in your workplace for more information.
Here are the most common: