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Jargon Buster (Mental Health)


Mental Health Jargon –Buster

Mental health services are full of words, terms and abbreviations that you may not be familiar with, but that people working in the services get into a habit of using.

We hope that this jargon-buster will help. However, if someone uses a word, term or abbreviation that you do not understand, please don't be afraid to ask what it means.

Compiled by - Mark Dale


A disorder or symptom that develops suddenly. Acute conditions may or may not be severe and they are usually of short duration.

Adults of working age

Adults aged 18 – 65

Anti psychotic

Drugs used to ameliorate the symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia. These can be oral or by intra muscular injection and include older type drugs e.g. Stelazine and newer drugs with possibly fewer side effects such as Risperidone and Amisulpiride.

Assertive outreach

An active form of treatment delivery; the service can be taken to the service users rather than expecting them to attend for treatment. Care and support may be offered in the service user’s home or some other community setting, at times suited to the service user rather than focused on service providers’ convenience.


A process to identify the needs of an individual and evaluate the impact of those needs on their daily living and quality of life.

Care Programme Approach (CPA)

This is the main way by which care is co-ordinated and delivered to individuals by secondary care services. It means that all individuals involved in the care will discuss the care with the user of the mental health services and their family/friend/carer (as appropriate) to ensure all the users needs are met. Once the package of care is agreed by the user and others a Care Programme is drawn up and the individual responsible for delivering the care identified. Delivery of the Care plan is co-ordinated by the Care Co-ordinator who will also ensure there are regular reviews. There is one level of CPA; enhanced. Individuals who are receiving care from more than one individual and who have complex needs are usually on enhanced levels of care.


Relatives or friends who voluntarily look after individuals who are sick, disabled, vulnerable or frail, on a part-time or full-time basis.

Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

Individual and family work helping children and young people under the age of 18 who experience a mental health problem

CCG (Clinical Commissioning Groups)

These have now taken over from PCT and are run by a board normally the membership is with local GPs the role is to commission services for the local population
Community mental health team (CMHT)

A team made up of a range of professions offering specialist assessment, treatment and care to people in their own homes and other community settings. The team should include nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, clinical psychologists and occupational therapists, with ready access to other therapies and expertise.


Team of people who purchase (mental) health care services from providers such as SEPT for the local community.


The process by which commissioners decide which services to purchase and which provider to purchase them from.


Advice and psychological support from health professionals to help people deal with personal difficulties. It is used to address a variety of areas such as problems at school, work or in the family, and to help people to deal with addictions and provide support during life crisis. Most counselling is a one to one activity but it may also be carried out in groups.

County council

Councils are directly elected local bodies which had a duty to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas. They do this individually and in partnership with other agencies, by commissioning and providing a wide range of local services.


A mental health crisis is a sudden and intense period of severe mental distress.

Crises and intensive home treatment team (CRHT)

Services to manage/limit the crises suffered by mental health service users and
support people to remain at home. They commonly operate 24 hours / seven days a week and may visit individuals daily or even more frequently providing an alternative to inpatient care.

Day hospital

A hospital where patients receive day care only, continuing to live at home. A person would typically attend for several hours during the day, rather than just attending a specific session as part of their programme of treatment and care.


A condition characterised by deterioration in brain function. Dementia is almost always due to Alzheimer’s disease or to cerebrovascular disease, including strokes. The main symptoms of dementia are progressive memory loss, disorientation and confusion.


A negative mood state which involves a feeling of sadness. A severe depression can require treatment. Depression can frequently coexist with and complicate other physical illnesses; the most frequent disorder found in the National Morbidity Survey was a mixed anxiety-depression.

Early intervention service

Service for people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Research suggests that early detection and treatment will significantly increase recovery.

Foundation Trusts

NHS Foundation Trusts are a new type of NHS Trust in England. They have been created to devolve decision-making from central Government control to local organisations and communities so they are more responsive to the needs and wishes of their local people.

Functional mental health problems

A term for any mental illness in which there is no evidence of organic disturbance (dementia) even though physical performance is impaired.


Local Organisations champions withith the community which offer patients and Public a say within Health and Social Care


Improving access to psychological therapy’s

Independent sector 3rd Sector

Voluntary, charitable and private care providers.

Inpatient services

Services provided, often by the NHS, where the patients/service users are accommodated on a ward and receive treatment there from specialist health professionals.

Integrated model of health and social care

Health and social care professionals (social workers) working together in health and social care professional teams to provide seamless care.

Joint Commissioning Board (JCB)

Group including representatives from PCTs and the County Council that is responsible for overseeing the co-ordinated commissioning of health and social care services.

Joint commissioning manager

Employed by the county council to manage the co-ordinated commissioning of health and social care services.

Low secure mental health services

Intensive rehabilitation service for mentally-disordered offenders.


Mental Capacity Act

Mental health

An individual’s ability to manage and cope with the stress and challenges of life and to manage any diagnosed mental health problems as part of leading their normal everyday life.

Mental Health Act

This is the legislation under which individuals can be assessed and required to be admitted to hospital for assessment for 28 days under section 2 or for treatment for 6 months under section 3. All assessments are undertaken by a social worker and two medical practitioners, one of whom will have special expertise in psychiatry. The Mental Health Act lays out a number of duties and responsibilities.  Under section 17 leave arrangements, individuals in hospital can go on periods of leave if agreed by the Responsible Medical Officer (usually the consultant).

National Service Frameworks (NSF)

A set of quality standards for services issued by the Department of Health.

Older adults / older people

Adults over 65 years old.

Organic illness

Illness affecting memory and other functions that is often associated with old age. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, is an organic mental illness.

Outpatient services

Medical care on a same-day basis in a hospital or clinic.

Overview and scrutiny committee

County Council committee responsible for scrutinising the details and implications of decisions about changes to health services, and scrutinising the processes used to reach those decisions. (To be replaced by health and wellbeing boards)

Payment by results (PBR)

A financial system which aims to provide a transparent, rules-based system for paying NHS trusts. It will reward efficiency, support patient choice and diversity and encourage activity for sustainable waiting time reductions. Payment will be linked to activity and adjusted for the mix of types of patients and/or treatment episodes. The system will aim to ensure a fair and consistent basis for hospital funding rather than being reliant principally on historic budgets and the negotiating skills of individual managers. Instead of being commissioned through block agreements as previously, providers will be paid for the activity that they undertake.

Practice based commissioning

GP practices and groups of practices being given more control over purchasing local services for their patients. Soon To be Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG)

Primary care

Services provided by family doctors, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists and ophthalmic medical practitioners together with district nurses and health visitors, with administrative support.

Primary care mental health services

Primary care mental health services could include:
• counselling services based in GP practices
• psycho-educational groups
• psychological therapies provided by graduate mental health workers
• access to computerised psychological therapies
• in-reach to primary care by community mental health teams

Primary Care Trust (PCT)

Primary care trusts had responsibility for commissioning specialist services as well as providing primary care (currently, although this will alter in the future), working closely with social services. (To be abolished in the new Health Act)

Psychiatric intensive care

Services to support mental health service users in a very severe acute phase of illness

Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit

Know as a PICU as above

Psycho-educational groups

Group work, using psychological therapy techniques, to address mental and emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, trauma, severe stress.


This is a mental state that is characterised by the individual having a number of symptoms which may include:

Auditory hallucinations:

voices often third person often but not always  unpleasant


having false beliefs not consistent with the culture or subculture to which the individual belongs

Flat affect:

lack of the normal emotional response to events or others

Thought disorder:

disordered thinking in form and content, making odd connections between words, using words in and odd way leading to speech that is often difficult to follow

Negative symptoms:

such as apathy, poor motivation, social decline.

Paranoid Psychosis:

A psychotic state in which the predominant features are delusional beliefs that the individual is being persecuted in some way.

Psychoses can be caused by stress and alcohol or drug abuse. 20% of individuals having a psychosis may recover and have no further problems.

Psychotherapy or psychological therapies

Treatment of mental and emotional problems – such as anxiety, depression or trauma – by psychological methods. Patients talk to a therapist about their symptoms and problems with the aim of learning about themselves.


A programme of therapy and re-enablement designed to restore independence and confidence and reduce disability. The programme may include occupational therapy to help with domestic and vocational skills that people will need when they return to living independently.

Residential and nursing homes

Residential care refers to nursing homes and residential care homes that provide around the clock care for vulnerable adults and older adults who can no longer be supported in their own homes, are staying in care, or are being cared for in hospital. Homes may be run by local councils or independent organisations.


When in the absence of drug or alcohol abuse. a psychotic state is persistent i.e. longer than 6 months or recurrent then the individual is considered to be suffering from schizophrenia. It is important to note that individuals may use alcohol and street drugs to “self-medicate” i.e. to try and calm their psychotic symptoms.

Secondary Mental Health Services

These are specialist mental health services provided usually by a Mental Health Trust. Services include support and treatment in the community as well as a range of inpatient services. Individuals are referred into these services by their General Practitioners and usually have serious mental illness.

Service users

Patients – people who need health and social care for their mental health problems. They may be individuals who live in their own homes, are staying in care, or are being treated in hospital.

SHO (Senior House Officer)

A junior doctor either a GP or psychiatry trainee. They are responsible for the day to day medical care of inpatients under the supervision of their Consultants.

Social care

Personal care for vulnerable people, including individuals with special needs which stem from their age or physical or mental disability and children who need care and protection.

Social inclusion

The state whereby vulnerable or disadvantaged groups are able to access all of the activities and benefits available to anyone living in the community.

This list is not exhaustive and Meanings and new Words come into play every week within Mental Health but this will help you understand a broader range of Words Professionals and some Service user’s and Carers use.

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