The Mental Health Recovery Framework 2013 promotes person centred care by “putting people who experience mental health issues first and at the centre of practice and service delivery” (pg. 29). Capabilities that support person centred care include being responsive to clients from immigrant and refugee backgrounds, as well as providing person centred treatments. The Framework also promotes supporting personal recovery by establishing collaborative relationships and promoting autonomy and self- determination (Mental Health Recovery Framework, 2013).
These practice principles underpin the importance of considering consumer preferences when booking an interpreter. While consumer reticence can be a significant barrier to interpreter use (Foundation House, 2012), it can often be addressed by creating an environment in which the consumer feels in control, safe, and supported.
Here are some of the considerations to discuss with consumers before booking an interpreter.
Do not assume the consumer’s language based on their country of birth or origin, as many countries present far more linguistic diversity than Australia. It is recommended to ask the consumer which is their preferred language and dialect. If the consumer does not speak sufficient English to extract this information, consider using the Identifying Language posters or contacting a language service provider (State Government of Victoria, 2014).
If at all possible, assess for local variations in language and try to match the interpreter as closely as possible as these differences can have important impact on meaning (Leanza, Miklavcic, Boivin, & Rosenberg, 2013).
Politics/ religion/ tribes or clans
It is important to gather some information on the social and political situation of the consumer’s country of origin to gain some understanding of the tensions that may exist between groups in the region. Within the limits of what is possible, it is beneficial to respect the consumer’s preferences.
Gender of interpreter
For various reasons, consumers should be asked if they have a preference in regard to the gender of the interpreter. For example, in some cases where there has been gendered violence, it may be the case that a female consumer prefers to have a female interpreter. (Leanza, Miklavcic, Boivin, & Rosenberg, 2013)
As stated earlier, confidentiality as a practice principle is a concept that may be unknown or unfamiliar to consumers. In order to create a space in which the consumer will feel at ease, it is crucial to spend time defining and explaining the confidentiality principles that apply within services.
To build rapport and to ensure consistent care, it is recommended that consumers work consistently with the same interpreter. The interpreter is a member of the therapeutic team and working with the same interpreter is good practice.