Skip to Main Content

Office of Mental Health

Language Access Services

Access to Services in Your Language

Mental health service providers are required to provide language access services to people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). OMH follows the laws and policies that govern the provision of language access services in mental health programs.

This includes:

  • Providing mental health services in an individual's preferred language.
  • Providing an interpreter if needed, at no charge.
  • Providing vital forms and documents in an individual’s preferred language.

Language Access Laws and Policies

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act: Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin in federally funded programs and activities. When a federally funded (i.e. Medicaid) programs do not provide language access to a limited-English-proficient (LEP) person, that program discriminates based on national origin.

American Disabilities Act 1990: Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requires state and local governments to make their programs, services, and activities accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS): Aims to advance health equity, improve quality, and help eliminate health care disparities by establishing a blueprint for health care organizations.

How to Work with an Interpreter

Use an Interpreter When:

  • Person Does not Speak English or does not speak it well (or)
  • Person Speaks English BUT prefers to receive care in their preferred language Ask the individual: “In general, what language do you prefer to receive your medical care?”
  • Use “I Speak” signs to help people identify the language needed. Signs are available through the Department of Labor.

Helpful Tips for Working with an Interpreter
Whether over the phone or in person:

  • Introduce yourself and the limited English speaker, deaf, or hard of hearing individual
  • Inform interpreter of the goal of the meeting
  • Always address the individual and not the interpreter
    • The interpreter is an extension of your voice
    • Everything stated will be interpreted
  • State information in short concise sentences
      When stating complicated/detailed information speak at a slow pace and pause often
  • Avoid technical jargon/acronyms
  • Avoid interrupting the interpreter or talking at the same time
  • Never ask an interpreter for a clinical opinion of an individual’s behavior

Filing a Complaint/Additional Language Access Services

OMH works to ensure individuals and families with language access needs obtain quality mental health services and supports. Mental health service providers must provide language access services to people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

If an individual feels that they have not been provided with adequate interpretation services or have been denied access to important translated documents, please complete the online Complaint Form. You can also submit a Complaint Form from the list below to Matthew Canuteson by email or mail.

Translated Complaint Forms

Waiver Form

Poster

Questions related to OMH’s diversity and inclusion efforts should be directed to OMH’s Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Matthew Canuteson.