Glossary Explained

This glossary was taken from the NHS website.

Accident and Emergency (A&E)

A walk-in centre at hospitals for when urgent or immediate treatment is necessary.


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.


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

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. Care and support may be offered in the service user’s home or in some other community setting. Care and support is offered at times suited to the service user rather than times suited to the team’s convenience.


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.

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. The path starts when someone first contacts health services – through their GP or an accident and emergency department, for example. The path continues through diagnosis, treatment, and care.

Care plan

Mental health professionals draw up a care plan with someone when they first start offering them support, after they have assessed what someone’s needs are and what is the best package of help they can offer. People should be given a copy of their care plan and it should be reviewed regularly. Service users, and their families and carers, can be involved in the discussion of what the right care plan is.

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 friend or relative who voluntarily looks after someone who is ill, disabled, vulnerable, or frail. Carers can provide care part-time or full-time.

Challenging behaviour

Behaviour that puts the safety of the person or other people at risk, or that has a significant impact on the person’s or other people’s quality of life.

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 or mental health problems

Chronic condition

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.

Clinical governance

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 health professional who is directly involved in the care and treatment of people. Examples include nurses, doctors, and therapists.

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, how we feel, and how we behave.


The process by which commissioners decide which services to purchase for the local community and which provider to purchase them from. Most mental health services are commissioned by Primary Care Trusts.

Community care

Care and support provided outside of a hospital.


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

Day care

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

Depot injections

Long acting medication often used where people are unable or unwilling to take tablets regularly.

Dual diagnosis

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

Early intervention service

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 offenders with mental health problems.

Formal patient

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

Foundation Trusts

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.

Functional mental health problems

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

General practitioner (GP)

GPs are family doctors who provide general health services to a local community. They are usually based in a GP surgery or practice and are often the first place people go with a health concern.


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.

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.


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.

Mental health

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)

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.

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.

Multi-disciplinary team

A team made up of a range of both health and social care workers combining their skills to help people.

National institute for 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.

Older Adults

Adults aged over 65.

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.

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 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)

All NHS Trusts have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service. 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.


Specialist health professionals who make, dispense, and sell medicines.

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.

Primary Care Trust (PCT)

Primary Care Trusts are responsible for planning and securing health services in their local area.

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.

Psycho-educational groups

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


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.


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.

Respite care

An opportunity for a carer to have a break.

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.

Service level agreements (SLAs)

Internal NHS agreements between Primary Care Trusts and other NHS Trusts on the services to be provided to the local population, what their standards will be, and how monitoring will take place.

Service user

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

Social care

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.

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.


Anybody who has an interest in an organisation, its activities, and its achievements.


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.

Supplementary prescribing

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.