Mental health in public service interpreting


  • Soňa Hodáková Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra
  • Jana Ukušová Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra


The aim of this paper is to present the main studies concerned with mental health of public service interpreters and to map the main categories of psychological states resulting from public service interpreters’ direct contact with the stories of misfortune, violence, family separation, illness or death, and the possibility of intervention in the care of the interpreters' mental health. Although interpreters are being intensively deployed in relation to the refugee crisis in Slovakia, as to the research, we are forced to mainly rely on findings of authors from countries that have long-term continuous experience in this area due to a shortage of research in Slovakia in terms of experience with refugee crises/public service interpreting. This paper is therefore of theoretical nature, yet we believe it provides a useful and also necessary first step towards the implementation of the project KEGA: PSI collaborative training in Slovakia: Design, implementation and evaluation of courses for public service interpreters with a specific focus on mental health of public service interpreters.

The most common difficulties that were identified by the presented studies were experiencing of negative emotions, such as irritability, nervousness and exhaustion; which, with intense and prolonged duration without appropriate coping strategies, can result in depression, burning-out or secondary traumatisation of the interpreter (Westermeyer 1990, Røkenes 1992, Baistow 2000, Valero-Garcés 2005). At the end of the paper, we outline the possibilities of further action in preventing mental health problems and coping with the negative effects on the interpreter’s emotional stability.