Access To Mental Healthcare: Bridging The Language Gap

Access to mental healthcare should be the right of every person, yet very often this access is hindered by the lack of knowledge of the local language (cf. Fn et al. 2019; Gil-Salmerón et al. 2021) which is a barrier at two points: finding information about the services available and then being able to communicate with a specialist. The former gap is easily solved with translation, while the latter could be filled by professionally trained public service interpreters.

Dr. Dalia Mankauskienė

Assistant Professor Vilnius University

The presence of an interpreter usually improves the quality of care (Flores 2005), yet some studies indicate that it does not guarantee patient satisfaction (Bauer and Alegría 2010; Baker, Hayes, and Fortier 1998) and suggestions have been made how that could be improved (Chang et al. 2021; Nevado, Pelea, and Bobăilă 2020). However, public service interpreters are not trained in Lithuania and it is still a budding profession (cf. Kukulskytė 2017). Therefore other solutions to this problem should be looked at and new media could be the answer.

As mentioned above, the access to mental healthcare is hindered at two points, therefore the goal of this presentation is also twofold: 1) to look into what information is available for non-Lithuanian speakers in terms of access to mental healthcare and 2) to discuss the good case practices in use of new media when interpreters are not available. To accomplish the first part of the goal a thorough internet analysis and a number of informal interviews were conducted as part of an international project MHealth4All ( It revealed that the number of resources dealing with access to mental healthcare in Lithuania available in any language other than Lithuanian is very low. In some cases information intended for foreigners is available only in Lithuanian. The second part of the goal is achieved by analysing data from other countries which reveals successful use of machine translation tools, specific pictograms and apps built specifically for this purpose.

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