Mental Health Act rights materials now available in eight languages other than English

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:

into eight of BC’s most commonly spoken languages other than English:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
  • Farsi
  • French
  • Korean
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

Image showing cover of Chinese pamphlet, cover of Punjabi card, and video with Korean subtitles

The pamphlet and wallet card are available as PDFs, which you can print as needed. To view and change the language of the subtitles on the YouTube video, follow the steps in this tutorial.

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.

Interpretation

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.” [1]

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.

Contact us if this is something you’d like to do.

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.

Notes

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.

One Reply to “Mental Health Act rights materials now available in eight languages other than English”

  1. Reading about changes in Mental Health Act rights information is inspiring. Now, instead of communicating only in English, clinicians and involuntary patients have eight other languages at hand. With wallet card and pamphlet available as PDFs, clinicians can easily provide patients with printed information in their own language. Similarly, an informative video can be given captions in the patient’s language. These changes address problems such as “higher risk of misdiagnosis, misunderstanding and mismanagement” when patients do not have language accommodation.

    Looking forward, the writer suggests ways of expanding service in more languages, such as German, Japanese, Tagalog, and Russian. Practicality, and innovation, along with sensitivity towards others, are promising.

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