The unmet need
In a series of focus groups, members of our research team asked clinicians about the barriers they face when giving involuntary patients rights information. One barrier participants mentioned over and over was that many of their patients didn’t understand English.
Form 13, the document clinicians use to to tell patients about their rights, seems to be available only in English.
Translated rights materials
To help fill the gap in availability of Mental Health Act rights information in other languages, we’ve translated:
- Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
These materials were all translated by professional translators and reviewed for linguistic accuracy and cultural safety by a person with lived experience or a family care partner.
We thank the Legal Services Society for funding and coordinating the Chinese, Farsi, and Punjabi translations. Thanks are also due to the professional translators at MOSAIC for the other languages. Finally, we’re extremely grateful to all of our translation reviewers, as well as to all of the volunteers who helped with last-minute proofreading.
We hope our translated materials will help clinicians, patients, and family care partners better communicate about patients’ Mental Health Act rights. But we recognize that they don’t replace a qualified medical interpreter.
The Provincial Language Service, part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, offers interpretation in over 150 languages. Staff at health authorities across BC can call to book an appointment or to connect with an interpreter over the phone.
We heard from staff that interpreters are often called to help patients understand their treatment plans. To comply with the Mental Health Act, staff should ensure that for involuntary patients, rights notification happens at the same appointment, while the interpreter is on hand.
Language interpretation can be critical to a patient’s care: Ruby Dhand at Thompson Rivers University says that people who face language barriers without an interpreter have a “higher risk of misdiagnosis, misunderstanding and mismanagement… Ethno-racial clients without appropriate language accommodation may be labelled ‘non-compliant’ and face differential treatment in hospital settings.” 
Opportunities to contribute to other languages
We had only enough funding to translate our materials into the eight languages that HealthLink currently offers, but we recognize that they don’t serve the many speakers of other common languages in BC, including German, Japanese, Tagalog, and Russian. Here are a couple of ways you can help us continue to narrow the language gap.
Subtitle our video
Our video subtitles are open for community contributions. If you’re a fluent speaker of a language we don’t already serve, you can help by subtitling our rights video. To make this process easier, you can edit YouTube’s automatically generated translations so that you don’t have to start from scratch.
Although eventually we’d like everything to be professionally translated and reviewed by a person with lived experience, having an option that’s better than YouTube’s machine-translated subtitles would be a helpful stopgap.
Connect us with translation funding
Some cultural organizations or community foundations may have funding available for translation into a specific language. If you know of any such opportunities, please let us know or tell the organizations about our work.
1. Dhand, Ruby, “Race, Culture and Ethnicity in Mental Health Law and Policy,” in Chandler & Flood, Law and Mind: Mental Health Law and Policy in Canada. Toronto, ON: LexisNexis Canada, 2016, p. 462.