How NIMHD Plans to Reach People in Multiple Languages

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about one in five people in the United States speaks a language other than English at home. Of those people, approximately 60 percent speak English very well, and about 40 percent have limited English proficiency.1 Furthermore, a significant number of these people live in linguistically isolated households with no one speaking English very well.

Language can be a profound barrier to health literacy. People with limited English proficiency are unable to read or understand health information or to have a conversation with healthcare professionals in English. Many of these people also experience low health literacy in their native language. Low health literacy can lead to health problems and further exacerbate the barriers present from having limited English proficiency. Providing information in ways that people can understand is an important part of reducing health disparities.

To help disseminate health information that is both relevant to health disparity populations and available in languages other than English, NIMHD is providing health resources from across NIH in selected languages. The languages provided are those spoken by populations in which particular health disparities are prevalent. More resources from other government agencies will be added in the future, and NIMHD also plans to develop its own resources in other languages.


  1. Ryan, C. (2013, August). Language use in the United States: 2011. American Community Survey Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from PDF (1.38MB)