Why is this project important?

Why is this project important? This is a neglected area of research with no published studies addressing interpreter-mediated MHA assessment practice, its frequency, implications or consequences for service users and carers, AMHPs and interpreters.


Despite reforms to improve data quality and reporting of MHA Assessments, detentions and outcomes introduced in 2016, language characteristics of the person assessed are not in the minimum data set, nor whether an interpreter was required in the assessment.

No attention has been given to the practice circumstance of interpreter-mediated MHA assessment in the Final Report of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act or its supporting documents, other than a passing acknowledgement (p.57) of interpreters as reasonable adjustments in cases where a person is disabled and barriers faced (unspecified) for refugees and asylum seekers accessing therapeutic treatments (p.91).

Although the 2007 revisions to the MHA and updated MHA Code of Practice have strengthened existing guidance concerning the provision of interpreters, whether for signed or spoken languages and responsibilities specifically with respect to deaf signers, no evidence exists regarding compliance, monitoring of quality of practice, outcomes, nor impact on rights and responsibilities of all parties involved.

This is important in order also to mitigate against the potential for illegal detention should the process be adversely impaired in situations where language mediation is required although there is no case law on this.

The potential adverse implications of poorly executed interpreter-mediated practice in MHA assessments is of fundamental relevance to the current Review’s 4 principles of choice and autonomy, least restriction, therapeutic benefit and the person as an individual.

This is because well executed interpreter – mediated MHA assessments, in which both professionals and interpreters understand and know how to work together, has the potential to minimise barriers to expression and understanding and is a fundamental human right under both the Equality Act 2010 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons.