Glossary of mental health terms
Acute, in medicine, refers to an intense illness or affliction of abrupt onset.
The point at which a person begins an episode of care (see definition), e.g. arriving at an inpatient ward.
There are various types of advance statement/directive. They can include statements of an individual’s wishes in certain circumstances, for example instructions to refuse some or all medical treatment or requests for certain types of treatment. They can also state someone to be consulted at the time a decision needs to be made. The individual should seek advice about the legal status of these statements/directives. They might be called Living Wills.
An advocate is a person who can support a service user or carer through their contact with health services. Advocates will attend meetings with patients and help service users or carers to express concerns or wishes to health care professionals. Although many people can act as an advocate (friend, relative, member of staff) there are advocacy services available that can be accessed through the Trust. These advocates are trained and independent.
This is the support or care that a person can expect to receive once discharged from inpatient care. Typically a discharge plan will be developed by the multidisciplinary team with the service user which will make clear what care and support will be provided. (see Care Plan, CPA).
Appropriateness of care
When in a clinical situation, the expected benefits (e.g. improved symptoms) of care outweigh the expected negative effects (e.g. drug side effects) to such an extent that the treatment is worth carrying out.
Approved Social Worker (ASW)
Approved Social Workers (ASW) have specialist training and experience in identifying disorders of mental health and are familiar with the problems experienced by users of mental health services and their families. They are employed by Local Authority Social Services and work in hospitals and in the community as part of the community mental health teams. They will organise social care support for people in contact with mental health services, such as helping with housing and getting welfare benefits. They work closely with health professionals and, under the current Mental Health Act, they work with two doctors to assess a person who may need admitting to hospital. Social workers can also act as care coordinators for people on care programmes.
Assertive outreach services aim to support people in the community who find it difficult keeping in contact with mental health services.
Assessment happens when a person first comes into contact with health services. Information is collected in order to identify the person’s needs and plan treatment.
A senior healthcare professional in each NHS organisation is responsible for safeguarding the confidentiality of patient information. The name comes from the Caldicott Report, which identified 16 recommendations for the use and storage of patient identifiable information.
A care co-ordinator is the person responsible for making sure that a patient gets the care that they need. Patients and carers should be able to contact their care co-ordinator (or on-call service) at any reasonable time. Once a patient has been assessed as needing care under the Care Programme Approach they will be told who their care co-ordinator is. The care co-ordinator is likely to be community mental health nurse, social worker or occupational therapist.
A care plan is a written plan that describes the care and support staff will give a service user. Service users should be fully involved in developing and agreeing the care plan, sign it and keep a copy. (see Care Programme Approach)
Care Programme Approach (CPA)
The Care Programme Approach is a standardised way of planning a person’s care. It is a multidisciplinary (see definition) approach that includes the service user, and, where appropriate, their carer, to develop an appropriate package of care that is acceptable to health professionals, social services and the service user. The care plan and care co-ordinator are important parts of this. (see Care Plan and Care Co-ordinator).
A carer is someone who looks after their relatives or friends on an unpaid, voluntary basis often in place of paid care workers.
Client (see also service user)
An alternative term for patient which emphasises the professional nature of the relationship between a clinician or therapist and the patient.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a talking treatment designed to alter unwanted patterns of thought and behaviour; it addresses personal beliefs which may result in negative emotional responses, concentrating on understanding behaviour rather than the actual cause of a problem.
Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)
A multidisciplinary team offering specialist assessment, treatment and care to people in their own homes and the community.
Consent to treatment
If you are an informal patient, you have the right to refuse any treatment you do not wish. You have a right to receive full information about the treatment, its purpose and possible side effects. If consent is not obtained the treatment cannot normally be given.
The point at which a person formally leaves services. On discharge from hospital the multidisciplinary team and the service user will develop a care plan. (see Care plan)
Episode of care
The period when a service user enters the care of the Trust to when they are discharged from all services provided by the Trust. This care could be, for example a combination of care provided by inpatient stays, outpatient attendances, a CPN, or use of services from an OT and a day hospital.
Home treatment team
A team usually consisting of a psychiatrist, nurse and social worker. The team provides a mobile service offering availability 24 hours, seven days a week and an immediate response. The team provides a gate keeping function to hospital admission and enables earlier discharge from hospital.
Integrated Care Pathway
Integrated Care Pathways are a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach to mapping patients’ care from admission through to discharge and ongoing care. The aim is pull together all the information into one file that will make it easier for the clinicians involved to give the best care for the patient.
Mental Health Act (1983) (MHA)
The Mental Health Act (1983) is a law that allows the compulsory detention of people in hospital for assessment and/or treatment for mental disorder. People who are detained under the mental health act must show signs of mental disorder and need assessment and/or treatment because they are a risk to themselves or a risk to others. People who are detained have rights to appeal against their detention.
National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
It provides clinical staff and the public in England and Wales with guidance on current treatments. It coordinates the National Collaborating Centres from whom it commissions the development of clinical practice guidelines.
National Service Framework for Mental Health
The Department of Health’s National Service Framework for Mental Health sets national standards for promoting mental health and treating mental illness.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
All NHS trusts are required to have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service. The service offers patients information, advice, quick solution of problems or access to the complaints procedure.
Primary care is the care that you will receive when you first come into contact with health services about a problem. These include family health services provided by GPs, dentists, pharmacists, opticians, and others such as community nurses, physiotherapists and some social workers
Secondary care is specialist care, usually provided in hospital, after a referral from a GP or health professional. Mental Health Services are included in secondary care (see also tertiary care).
This is used to refer to one of the sections of any Act of Parliament. A person who is detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act (1983) is commonly referred to as ‘sectioned’.
This is someone who uses health services. Other common terms are patient, service survivor and client. Different people prefer different terms.
Single Assessment Process (SAP)
The Single Assessment Process (SAP) for older people was introduced in the National Service Framework for Older People. The purpose of the single assessment process is to ensure that older people receive appropriate, effective and timely responses to their health and social care needs, and that professional resources are used effectively.
These are psychological treatments in which improvement in a person’s symptoms or wellbeing is achieved by talking with a therapist or counsellor rather than, or as well as, taking medication.
The therapeutic relationship (also called the helping alliance, the therapeutic alliance, and the working alliance) refers to the relationship between a mental health professional and a service user. It is the means by which the professional hopes to engage with, and effect change in, a service user.
User involvement refers to a variety of ways in which people who use health services can be involved in the development, maintenance and improvement of services. This includes patient satisfaction questionnaires, focus groups, representation on committees, involvement in training and user-led presentations and