Understanding mental health jargon
Some of the language used in the NHS can be confusing, and the language used in mental health can be even more so to anyone who isn’t a trained mental health professional.
Here, we have tried to provide explanations of various terms used in mental health, as well as explaining some of the abbreviations you might come across.
- Acute - An acute illness is one that develops suddenly. Acute conditions may or may not be severe and they usually last for a short amount of time.
- Admission beds - NHS beds that are available for people in a crisis, when care cannot be provided in their own home.
- Advocate - An advocate is someone who helps to support a service user or carer through their contact with health services.
- Allied Health Professionals (AHPs)- A range of health professionals that includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, art therapists, and speech and language therapists
- Anti-psychotic medication - Medication used to treat psychosis. There are several different types of anti-psychotic medication.
- Assertive outreach Team (AOT) - Assertive outreach refers to a way of delivering treatment. An Assertive Outreach Team actively take their service to people instead of people coming to the team.
- Assessment - When someone is unwell, health care professionals meet with the person to talk to them and find out more about their symptoms so they can make a diagnosis and plan treatments. This is called an assessment.
- Caldicott guardian - The person within a Trust who has responsibility for policies on safeguarding the confidentiality of patient information.
- Care pathways - This is the route someone who is unwell follows through health services.
- Care plan - An agreement between you and your health professional to help you manage your health day to day and to help you with your recovery.
- Care Programme Approach (CPA) - A way of assessing the needs of people with mental health problems, and coming up with a care plan that ensures they get the support they need.
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) - CAMHS provide individual and family work helping children and young people under the age of 18 who experience emotional difficulties.<
- Clinical governance - A system of procedures through which NHS organisations are accountable for improving quality and safeguarding high standards to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - This is a way of helping people to cope with stress and emotional difficulties by encouraging them to make the connections between how we think, feel and behave.
- Commissioning - The process by which commissioners decide which services to buy and which provider to buy them from. Most mental health services are commissioned by CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups).
- Dual diagnosis - When two or more problems or disorders affect a person at the same time.
- Early intervention service (EIS) - A service for people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Research suggests that early detection and treatment will significantly increase recovery
- Forensic services - Services that provide support to people with mental health problems who have committed criminal offences.
Formal patient - A formal patient is a person who has been detained in hospital under a section of the Mental Health Act (1983).
- IAPT - Improving access to psychological Therapies
- Independent sector - Voluntary, charitable, and private care providers.
Inpatient services - Services where the service user is accommodated on a ward and receives treatment there from specialist health professionals.
Integrated Services - Health and social care professionals (such as social workers) working together in one team to provide a comprehensive range of support.
Intervention - Another word for treatment. An intervention could be medication, a talking therapy, or an hour spent with a volunteer.
- Mental Health Act (1983) - The Mental Health Act (MHA) is a law that allows for the compulsory detention of people in hospital for assessment and treatment of a mental illness. Health workers use the law when they believe it will be a risk to you or others if you are not in hospital.
Multi-disciplinary team (MDT) - A team made up of a range of both health and social care workers combining their skills to help people.
- National institute for Health and care excellence (NICE) - An organisation responsible for providing guidance on best practice and the prevention and treatment of ill health
Non-executive director (NED) - A member of the Trust’s board who represents community interest and uses their knowledge and expertise to help improve trust services. They are responsible for ensuring the trust is fully accountable to the public.
- Older Adults - Adults aged over 65.
Out-patient Services - Services provided to someone who comes to a hospital for treatment, consultation, and advice but who does not require a stay in the hospital.
Overview and scrutiny committee - A Local Authority committee responsible for looking at the details and implications of decisions about changes to health services.
- Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) - They provide support, advice, and information to service users and their families. They can also tell you how to complain about a service, and can explain the Trust’s complaints procedures.
Primary care - Health services that are the first point of contact for people with health concerns. Examples include GP surgeries, pharmacies, the local dentists, and opticians.
Psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) - A locked ward where some people detained under the Mental Health Act may stay. They stay in the unit because they have been assessed as being at risk to themselves or others on an open inpatient ward.
Psychosis - A mental state in which someone may show confused thinking, think that people are watching them, and see, feel, or hear things that other people cannot.
- Recovery - In mental health recovery is the process of rebuilding a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life with a diagnosis of mental health problems.
Rehabilitation - A programme of therapy that aims to restore someone’s independence and confidence and reduce disability.
Residential and nursing homes - Provide care for vulnerable adults who can no longer be supported in their own homes. Homes may be run by local councils or independent organisations.
- Secondary Care - Specialist mental health services usually provided by a Mental Health Trust. Services include support and treatment in the community as well as in hospitals.
Sectioning - When someone is sectioned it means they are compulsorily admitted to hospital.
Social inclusion - Ensuring that vulnerable or disadvantaged groups are able to access all of the activities and benefits available to anyone living in the community.
Stakeholder - Anybody who has an interest in an organisation, its activities, and its achievements.
To improve the quality of services that the NHS delivers, it is important to understand what people think about their care and treatment.
A good way of doing this is by asking people who have recently used health services to tell us about their experiences.
Each year we take part in the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) national inpatient survey, which is part of a national programme run by the CQC to improve the quality of care and service users’ experiences.
Taking part in the survey is entirely voluntary and all answers are confidential.
For each survey, a number of people are randomly selected from those who were using our inpatient services during a particular timeframe. They are sent a questionnaire asking them about their experiences of our services.
If you wish to opt out of the survey and would prefer your contact details not be used, please let your care coordinator know.
Tell us what you think
We know that patients have a unique position as expert witnesses to care. We also know that their judgements are formed as much by the care they see others getting as the care they get themselves.
We consider they are experts by experience and we want to learn from that experience. Understanding patient satisfaction and experiences are crucial to our ability to react to what patients and carers want and need. Understanding how we do things is just as important as what we do.
As an organisation we are keen to ensure that listening and learning from past experience, together with understanding what is important to people when developing services, runs throughout the way we commission services.
There are lots of ways you can give us your feedback: