Making sense of what you see - a glossary of key terms
We know that sometimes the things you read can be confusing and that we do not always make ourselves as clear as we would wish to be. Because we want you to understand everything you see on our website, or in documents that you may come across while accessing our services, we have produced a jargon buster to help explain some of the newer or more complicated words used.
Terms are in alphabetical order and can be found by clicking on the letters below.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Accident and Emergency (A&E)
The part of a hospital for anyone who has a serious injury or who needs emergency treatment.
Short term treatment for diseases or illnesses that start quickly and have painful or distressing symptoms. The term 'acute' is also used to refer to services which provide care and treatment for physical health problems.
A trained and independent person who will support you in talking to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. This could involve putting questions to them on your behalf, or making sure they understand your point of view.
Allied Health Professionals (AHPs)
A range of health professionals that includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, art therapists and speech and language therapists.
Assertive Outreach Team
A team which will see a person more often than usual. You might be seen by one of these teams if you tend to go into hospital, get better, but then get quickly worse again after you have been discharged.
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. Family members should be involved in assessments, unless the person who is unwell says he or she does not want that.
Associate Hospital Managers
The Associate Hospital Managers are a group of volunteers who are appointed and trained by the Trust; they must not be employees of the organisation or have any financial interest in it. Their role is a delegated duty from the Trust Board and they are not therefore independent of the Trust in the way that an MHA Tribunal is; they do however, have the power to discharge a specific group of detained patients.
The senior healthcare professional in each NHS organisation who 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.
CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health services)
There are four different levels of services for children and adolescents with mental health problems - these are described as Tiers 1, 2, 3 or 4.
The person who is responsible for making sure that your care is properly planned and you get the help you need. They will usually work with a community mental health team and will be the person you see most often. They will usually be a community psychiatric nurse, social worker or occupational therapist.
A standard way of giving care or treatment to someone with a particular diagnosis. The path starts when someone first contacts health services and continues through diagnosis, treatment, and care.
A plan for your care over the next few weeks or months. It should be written down and you should have a copy. If you think it is wrong, or something is missing, you can ask for it to be changed.
Care Programme Approach (CPA)
A way of assessing the health and social care needs of people with mental health problems, and coming up with a care plan that ensures people get the full help and support they need.
A person who looks after someone else without being paid to do so. This can involve helping out with practical things including managing money, and being someone to talk with, and someone who is there to listen.
The trust chaplaincy service can help you to contact an appropriate representative of your faith. There are chapels at some of our sites that can be used for private prayer or religious services.
A condition that develops slowly and/or lasts a long time.
Someone who uses health services. Some people use the terms patient or service user instead.
A system of steps and procedures through which NHS organisations are accountable for improving quality and safeguarding high standards to ensure that patients receive the highest possible quality of care
A term which is used to describe someone who provides care and treatment to patients, such as a nurse, psychiatrist or psychologist.
An organisation which determines what health and social care services should be provided for local people, and which then commissions and allocates funding for other organisations to provide them.
Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)
A team of people from different health and social care professions who work in your community to help you to recover from, and cope with, a mental health problem.
Care and support provided outside of a hospital.
Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN)
A nurse who has been trained to help people with mental health problems and who works in the community, instead of in a hospital.
These are the conditions which relate to the discharge of a patient who has been treated in hospital under Section 41 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) (the law in England that controls what services can do when they are trying to assess or treat someone against their will). If you do not comply with these conditions then you could be brought back into hospital.
A medical doctor with specialist experience and qualifications in mental illness and emotional disorders who has overall responsibility for your care. This includes your medication and other activities you may take part in whilst in hospital.
A mental health crisis is a sudden and intense period of severe mental distress.
Communal care that is usually provided away from a service user's place of residence with carers present.
A way of picking up the early signs of a serious mental illness. This is so that treatment can start as early as possible to help people to maintain their mental health.
Services that provide support to offenders with mental health problems.
A person who is legally kept in hospital under a section of The Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) (often called "a section").
NHS foundation trusts have been created to shift a certain amount of decision-making from central government control to local organisations and communities. This should make foundation trusts more responsive to the needs and wishes of their local people.
General Practitioner (GP)
Your local doctor - or family doctor - who will usually be the first person you see if you have a physical illness or emotional problem. They can help you directly but can also refer you on for specialist care or assessment. Many GPs have a community psychiatric nurse, psychiatrist or counsellor who works at the GP surgery.
Health Care Assistants
A member of hospital staff who helps qualified nursing staff to care for patients on the ward.
Health of the Nation Outcome Score (HoNOS)
A way of measuring how well someone is doing in their treatment and recovery.
Taking into consideration as much about a person as possible in the treatment of an illness – this includes their physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social needs.
Home treatment (sometimes called crisis resolution) is a way of helping people at home rather than in hospital. This can help to avoid the stress, anxiety and upheaval that can happen with a hospital admission. This can include daily or twice daily visits, and help with medication and sorting out practical matters such as accommodation and shopping.
Voluntary, charitable, and private care providers.
Someone who is in hospital because they want to be - or at least feel that it could be helpful for them. Someone who is not detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA).
Someone who stays in hospital to receive care and treatment.
Health and social care professionals (such as social workers) working together in one team to provide a comprehensive range of support.
An ‘intervention’ describes any treatment or support that is given to someone who is unwell. An intervention could be medication, a talking therapy, or an hour spent with a volunteer.
Low secure mental health services
Intensive rehabilitation services for offenders who have mental health problems.
If someone has a learning disability, it means that they may find it more difficult to learn, understand and communicate. Learning disabilities are not a "mental illness", but can be caused by illness or problems before or during birth, or that develop during childhood or as the result of an illness.
Someone’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 1983 (MHA)
The legal framework governing the treatment of people with mental illness in England and Wales.
Mental Health Tribunal
An independent organisation with responsibility for hearing appeals by patients who wish to be discharged from a section of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA).
Mental health trust
A mental health trust provides treatment, care and advice to people who have mental health problems. The services may be provided from a hospital or in the community.
The independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts.
A team of health and social care staff. It includes professionals such as nurses, doctors, social workers, psychologists and benefits workers. It can also include service users and non-professionals in certain jobs.
The nurse with special responsibility for you when you are in hospital. He/she will work closely with you and your consultant to design your care plan and review its progress.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
An organisation responsible for providing guidance on best practice and the prevention and treatment of ill health.
National Service Frameworks (NSF)
A set of quality standards for services issued by the Department of 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.
Non-executive directors have a responsibility to ensure the trust is fully accountable to the public for the services it provides and the public funds it uses.
Occupational Therapist (OT)
The person who will work with you to develop your skills and confidence in everyday life - including work, social and leisure activities and personal care.
Someone who comes to hospital for an appointment to see a doctor, nurse, social worker or psychologist.
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 county council committee that is responsible for looking at the details and implications of decisions about changes to health services, and the processes used to reach these decisions.
Someone who uses health services. Some people use the terms service user or client instead.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
We welcome compliments, comments, concerns and complaints in order to ensure we continue to provide high quality care. You can raise anything from comments to complaints with the professional delivering care, or alternatively by contacting our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team by:
Freephone: 0800 052 0219
mobile: 07775 518086
You may prefer to put your concerns in writing to the Complaints team at Flatts Lane Centre, Flatts Lane, Normanby, Middlesbrough, TS6 0SZ.
Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)
A term used to describe a way of involving people who use services, and the wider public, in how NHS services are planned and provided.
Someone who has expert knowledge of the use of medicines. They work closely with doctors and nurses and advise them on the safe and effective use of drugs. They are responsible for supplying medication and making sure it is available in the right form.
The study of drugs and their uses and effects.
An organisation which provides health and/or social care services to local people.
Psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU)
A locked ward in a hospital 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 acute inpatient care ward.
A medical doctor with specialist experience and qualifications in mental illness and emotional disorders. He or she has overall responsibility for your care. This includes any medication you may take, and any activities you may be involved in whilst in hospital, or in the community.
Someone who has done a psychology degree, then further training in helping people with emotional or psychological problems. Psychologists can offer you therapy which involves talking about your difficulties and working together to overcome them. They are different from psychiatrists in that they are not medically trained and do not prescribe medication.
Someone who has trained to carry out one or more of the psychotherapies. They can be from any professional background - or none. They should be registered with a professional psychotherapy organisation in the UK.
A 'talking treatment' which aims to help people to understand their mental or emotional problems, change behaviour and thoughts or emotions to improve their well-being. This can refer to any form of psychological therapy but is often specifically applied to psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
A programme of therapy that aims to restore someone’s independence and confidence and reduce disability.
Residential and nursing homes
Residential and nursing homes provide round the clock care for vulnerable adults and older adults who can no longer be supported in their own homes. Homes may be run by local councils or independent organisations.
Secondary mental health services
Specialist mental health services usually provided by a mental health trust. Services include support and treatment in the community as well as in hospitals.
When someone is sectioned it means they are compulsorily admitted to hospital.
Someone who uses mental health services, or who has done so in the past. Also sometimes referred to as clients or patients.
Social care describes services and support that help people live their lives as fully as possible, whereas health care focuses on treating an illness. Both types of care are offered as a combined package of support to people with mental health problems.
Ensuring that vulnerable or disadvantaged groups are able to access all of the activities and benefits available to anyone living in the community.
A professional who can help you with practical aspects of life, and who will often also have had training in psychological help. They work closely together with other organisations that are also able to provide you with help
People who have an interest and / or an involvement ('stake') in an organisation, its activities and its plans for the future. This can include the public, service users, carers and staff.
Society’s negative attitude to people, often caused by lack of understanding. Stigma can be a problem for people who experience mental ill health.
Supervised community treatment
When someone detained under the Mental Health Act for treatment is discharged from hospital, they can be placed on ‘Supervised Community Treatment’. This means they can return home but continue to be treated without their consent.
A partnership between a doctor, a service user, and a nurse or allied health professional (AHP). Under the partnership the nurse or AHP can make adjustments to someone’s medication based on an agreed care plan.
Staff employed to support qualified nurses in providing care
A general term for treatments which involve talking in individual or group sessions with a trained mental health professional.
The psychiatrist responsible for your daily medical care and for prescribing any medication you may need. If your consultant is away he/she may also stand in for them (see Consultant Psychiatrist).
The senior nurse in charge of running a hospital ward.
Thank you to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Sandwell Mental Health Foundation Trust for allowing us to use information from their jargon busters in producing ours.