Multilingualism in providing quality mental health care to migrants needs, resources and practices (MiM2M)

Funding: Volkswagen Foundation

Duration: 10/2022-09/2026

Background: The increase in international and within-country migration over the past 15 years has led to increasing cultural and linguistic diversity globally. Migration may involve physical and mental conflict before or during migration or after arrival in the host country. Arising issues include cultural alienation, loss of support, socio-economic difficulties, isolation, adaptation difficulties, discrimination, and unemployment. A major related post-migration challenge is stress regarding (lack of) access to health care. A key reason for the underutilization of mental health care is limited communication between migrants and health care professionals. So far the issue of mitigation of language-related barriers in migrant health care remains largely neglected in research, education and practice. The aim of this interdisciplinary project (Cultural Psychology, Public and Global Mental Health, Intercultural Communication and Linguistics) is to investigate and develop improvements to communication between (mental) health care providers ((M)HCP) and migrants who experience mental disorders and do not (sufficiently) speak the languages of the health care professionals, ultimately enhancing the quality of mental health care.

The research project consists of six different work packages:

  • WP 0 (Organization): Project communication, exchange with local migrant communities and (M)HCP in each country and engagment of young researchers.
  • WP 1: Identification and systematically synthesis current policies and practicies for communicating in multilingual situations in health care at the international level.
  • WP 2: Assessment of barriers and resources in the communication from different perspectives such as (M)HCP and migrant patients experiencing language barriers.
  • WP 3: Quality assessment on technological devices and its applicability to overcome language barriers in (mental) health care.
  • WP 4: Development of recommendations and information tools for (M)HCP addressing language und cultural capacity gaps in providing services to people with mental disorders, and for migrants regarding coping mechanisms in multilingual health care provider-patient settings.
  • WP 5: Development, pilot-testing and evaluation of a local training for (M)HCP to improve multilingual communication with patient .
  • WP 6: Disseminatation of results in scientific publications and organization of a final conference in Germany.

Project staff:

Project partner:

  • University Hamburg, Department of Linguistics, Germany
  • Stellenbosch University, Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Babe – Bolyai University, Center for Health Innovation HIVE, College of Political, Cluj, Romania
  • New York University Shanghai, Global Public Health, Shanghai, China
  • Utrecht University, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Utrecht, Netherlands