FSCR: Interpreting,Translation Is A Way To End Exclusion

Imagine waking up one day and everything around you is in another language — the words of your beloved ones, the channels on TV, music on the radio, people on the streets, and signs on the road. All is new and maybe can become scary. Probably, if this occurs, you are one of the thousands of immigrants who face this every day.

We live in a multi-cultural and cosmopolitan society in constant change. There are people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Many foreign people in the country use the public services offered in it: health, safety, justice, and education. As users of these services, they have the right to be understood and understand how to benefit from them, as well as their organization and system. At that time the interpreter’s work in the public services is necessary.

The image of the interpreter is often associated with international conferences with personalities from different countries.

However, interpreter’s profession is not always performed under these conditions. It is true that the working conditions of the interpreter of the public services are not as sometimes as we can assume.

At this point, you must be aware of the importance that an interpreter has in medical consultation, in the care of emergencies of a hospital, in psychological therapy, and in a courtroom with a judge. What would happen if we go to a foreign country and we are sick? Without knowing the language to explain what happens to us, who is able to understand us? What would happen if an interpreter working for the police does not correctly interpret the statement of a detainee?

The interpreter can meet users in difficult situations with which he or she feels identified because he or she shares some traits such as lived experiences, nationality, ethnicity, etc.

In addition, the interpreter may be faced with a particularly delicate psychological consultation situation. These consultations, longer than normal medical consultations. The professional is less active because he should allow the patient to express himself with total freedom. Silence is very important in these consultations and it is not necessary to try to fill it with clarifications or words of encouragement because in this way it would interfere in the medical communication — patient and the progress of the therapy would be obstructed. The interpreter of the public services will work in a multicultural and multilingual situation in which the assistance is required. Often these circumstances are special to be given in spaces for social assistance and humanitarian aid.

Ulysses Syndrome

A syndrome that affects immigrants is Ulysses Syndrome. It appears when the person who arrives in a foreign country suffers prolonged stress. The syndrome can also affect the interpreter, especially if they both share origins or experiences. It can also happen that this type of duel arises because the person feels guilty for having left relatives in their country of origin also in difficult circumstances. The duel for the mother tongue refers to the learning of a new language in the country of arrival. There is also a duel for culture, which arises during the adaptation of the immigrant to new customs and ways of acting that can be very different from his own.

Mental Health

Although the foreign communities show a predisposition similar to mental health conditions, there are unfortunately differences in access to treatment and the quality of treatment foreigners receive. As a community, people from Latin America are less likely to seek counseling and psychiatric treatment for their mental health. The community usually does not talk about mental health problems. There is little information about it. Many do not seek treatment because they do not recognize the symptoms or because they do not know where to find help. This lack of information increases the stigma associated with mental health conditions. Many do not seek help for fear of being categorized as “crazy” or as someone with a mental health condition, as it may cause shame.

Understanding The culture

Beliefs, culture, and language are key in all aspects of our lives, including our mental health. Cultural competence is the capacity of a doctor to recognize and understand the role of culture, yours and his, in treatment, and how to adapt it properly. To find a Latino Mental health professional, can be difficult or not possible because the percentage of Latin American providers is very small. Fortunately, the requirement for professionals to learn how to treat people from diverse communities is getting bigger.

However, many providers still do not have cultural competence and do not know how effectively to help and serve Latin American effectively. The mental health provider has an important role to play in the treatment, so it is important to be sure that he can work and communicate well with the patient.

Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. The work of the interpreter on health, justice or education represents the guarantee of citizens to access to public services and therefore implies: an indispensable tool in the fight against social exclusion. For more information contact Family Service of the Chautauqua Region 488-1971.


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