top of page


ASW - Approved social worker  

A social worker who’s specifically trained and approved by a local authority (council) under the Mental Health Act 1983.


A&E - Accident and Emergency

A walk-in facility at hospitals that provides urgent treatment for serious injuries and conditions.



An advocate is someone who supports people through their contact with health services.




Bipolar disorder

A mood disorder consisting of very high and then very low changes in personality and behaviour. Previously known as 'manic depression'.




Crisis resolution team

Services to manage/limit the crises suffered by mental health service users and support people to remain at home.



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

Community healthcare services

NHS services provided outside of hospital, for example in a community clinic or outreach centre.



The purchase of specialist health services for a particular community or geographical area.


Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

CAMHS provide a comprehensive range of services to children and young people who are experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties or mental health problems.


Chronic condition

A condition that develops slowly or lasts a long time.


Care programme approach (CPA)

A way of assessing the health and social (non clinical) care needs of someone with mental health problems to provide a package of care that ensures they get the full help and support they need.


Care plan

A signed written agreement setting out how care will be provided. Your care plan may be written in a letter or using a special form.



CPN - Community psychiatric nurse

A specialist nurse who works within a local community to assess needs as well as plan and evaluate programmes of care.


Community mental health team (CMHT)

A team of professionals from different health and social care backgrounds who work together to help people recover from mental health problems.



An organisation or body that purchases specialist health services for a particular community or geographical area.


CBT - Cognitive behaviour therapy

A talking therapy that focuses on ‘here and now’ problems and difficulties.


Clinical governance

A system of steps and procedures through which NHS organisations are accountable for improving quality and safeguarding high standards.


Clinical audit

Regular measurement and evaluation by health professionals of the clinical standards they are achieving.



Someone who uses health services. Some people use the terms patient or service user instead.



A friend or relative who looks after an ill, disabled or older person on an informal, voluntary and long-term basis.


Caldicott Guardian

The person with responsibility for the policies that safeguard the confidentiality of patient information.





Dual diagnosis

When two or more problems/disorders affect a person at the same time.

Drama therapy

A form of treatment that encourages spontaneity and creativity, giving people the opportunity to look back and help resolve problems.



Communal care which is usually provided away from a service user's place of residence with carers present.




Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)

ECT involves sending an electric current through the brain to trigger a seizure, or fit, with the aim, in most cases, of relieving severe depression.




Formal patient

A formal patient is a person who has been detained in hospital under a section of the Mental Health Act (1983).





A GP or General Practitioner is also known as a family doctor. They provide a wide range of family health services.




Health care assistant (HCA)

Someone employed to support other health care professions.










Local improvement finance trust (LIFT)

An NHS initiative designed to encourage public and private investment in community services.




Multi-disciplinary team

A team made up of both health and social care workers.

Mental health trust

A mental health trust provides treatment, care and advice for patients who are mentally ill. The services may be provided from a hospital or in the community.


Mental Health Act (1983)

The Mental Health Act is a law that allows for the compulsory detention of people in hospital for assessment and treatment of a mental illness.




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.


National institute for clinical excellence (NICE)

An organisation responsible for providing guidance on best practice and the prevention and treatment of ill health.



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.





A mental health professional who specialises in talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy.



A medical doctor specialising in the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of mental illness.


Primary care      

Health services, which are the first point of contact for patients, e.g. GP surgeries, pharmacists, local dentists, opticians etc.



Specialist health professionals who make, dispense and sell medicines.

Patient and public involvement forum (PPIF)

An independent group that overviews the work of an NHS organisation. There is a forum for each NHS organisation with powers to hold trusts to account.

Patient advice and liaison service (PALS)  

All NHS Trusts have a Pals team who are there to help patients navigate and deal with the NHS. Pals can advise and help with any non-clinical matter (eg accessing treatment, information about local services, resolving problems etc.).






Respite care

An opportunity for a carer to have a break.



A programme of therapy and re-enablement designed to restore independence and confidence and reduce disability.





Society’s negative attitude to people, often caused by lack of understanding. Stigma is a major problem for people who experience mental ill health.


Strategic health authority (SHA)

Public body that manages the performance of the NHS across a region (e.g. London).

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.


Service user

This is someone who uses health services. Some people use the terms patient or client instead.


Secondary care

Specialised treatment usually provided by a hospital.



Schizophrenia is used to describe a mental state in which a person can't distinguish their own thoughts, ideas and imaginings from reality.



























bottom of page