Impact AwardsHealth and Social Care AwardsWinner of NHS London Region Health and Social Care Awards 2010 in partnership with the 56 Dean Street NHS sexual health service
Winner of Business Excellence Achievements & Mentors Award 2004 supported by the Mayor of London and London Development Agency
Winner of GlaxoSmithKline Community Health Impact Awards 1998 in partnership with King's Fund

London Bilingual Mental Health Advocacy Course

This project was funded by the Westminster Primary Care Trust delivered in partnership with Translating and Interpreting Service - Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering.

This course was particularly suitable for people with experience in mental health advocacy/interpreting or in health interpreting/advocacy with some knowledge of mental health issues. The course aimed to provide training in these issues including legislation, terminology, cultural aspects of mental health services, as well as advocacy skills to support and empower users.

This course concentrated on six themes:

  1. Concepts and definitions of mental distress and disorder
  2. The structure of the UK Mental Health Services
  3. Cultural differences in experiencing mental distress
  4. Language of distress, diagnosis and treatment
  5. Mental health and the law
  6. Skills, practices and ethics

We recruited and trained 10 volunteers to accompany non English-speaking Chinese people with mental health problems to doctors’ surgeries and hospitals. Bilingual Health Advocates acted not only as interpreters, but also empowered the patients to speak their mind, express their concerns and obtain the level of service otherwise denied to them due to language and cultural differences.

Weekly training sessions began in early October 2004. The course ran for about 20 weeks after which the trainees had an option to seek employment as qualified mental health advocates or to stay with us as volunteers. We offered our volunteers ongoing support, training and opportunities for professional and personal development.

The London Mental Health Advocacy service was available free of charge at our London centre from early 2005 onwards.