Mental health interpretation is not usually considered a specialty apart, but rather incorporated into medical interpreting as a whole. I believe that this isn’t a wise way to go about providing mental health interpreting services to patients, as many medical interpreters starting out are often blindsided by mental health interpreting assignments with little to no preparation.
In an effort to help address the mental health interpretation training disparities within the medical interpreting community, I’ve teamed up with Americans Against Language Barriers, a 501(c)(3) public charity, to produce a 10-part series of mental health interpretation training courses. These CEU-accredited lessons are free to watch, but you can obtain NCBMI or CCHI certificates for a small fee!
Mental Health Interpreting Survey
For Spoken Language Medical Interpreters
As preparation for the mental health training series I produced for AALB, I conducted an informal survey of medical interpreters about their experiences and training as it relates to mental health interpretation. The results of this survey are publicly available below.
Read my cursory analysis of the data collected from the survey. What does it tell us about the state of mental health training for medical interpreters?Read Survey Summary
View all the data collected from the survey, including demographics, employment status, amount of training completed, perceptions on safety, and more.View Detailed Results
Most 40-hour medical interpreting training courses do not go over the skills necessary for mental health interpretation, a point that was brought up by many interpreters in the survey mentioned above. Furthermore, aside from technical interpreting skills, mental health interpreting requires a certain level of emotional intelligence and control, as well as a working knowledge of mental health topics.
Only a 40-hour training course is required to become a medical interpreter, and this usually does not cover the skills required for mental health interpretation such as simultaneous interpretation. Instead of completing a mere 40 hours of training, I completed over ten times that amount at the university level before embarking on my journey as an interpreter. My training not only included simultaneous interpretation, but mental health topics.
My training not only included simultaneous interpretation, but mental health topics.
Familiarity with Mental/Behavioral Health
Hand-in-hand with one’s own emotional intelligence/regulation comes knowledge of mental health concepts and specific vocabulary. Before beginning my training as a medical interpreter, I studied social work at Virginia Commonwealth University. I have always been and will always be an advocate for patients with mental health issues ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.