“It isn’t a good fit.” The patient, a child who had fled armed conflict and persecution, had been diagnosed with a severe behavioral health problem. The family was overwhelmed. On behalf of the family, we sought help from multiple behavioral health services and heard the same thing: “Therapy won’t work with an interpreter.” “We don’t know how to complete intake for a child who doesn’t speak English.” “We can’t start treatment until we hire a bilingual therapist.” Our health system failed this family, and the social and emotional consequences were devastating.
Yun K, Jenicek G, Gerdes M. Overcoming Language Barriers in Mental and Behavioral Health Care for Children and Adolescents—Policies and Priorities. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(6):511–512. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.0400
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