Mental Health Jargon

Acute:  Person experiencing severe distress associated with onset of, or increased signs/symptoms of, psychiatric problems.

Addiction: Addiction is defined as the inability to control a psychological or physiological dependence on a substance or activity that further leads to self harm.

Advocate: A person who provides information and support to and on behalf of the individual on areas including rights and responsibilities.

Assessment: In terms of mental health, assessment is an evaluation of a person’s mental,emotional and social capabilities. The major goals of assessment are to:

  1. Identify factors that suggest vulnerability
  2. Diagnosis
  3. Select best treatment and;
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment and make future recommendations.

Care Plan: A Care Plan is a devised map of action that identifies the needs and strengths of consumer. From this plan interventions are developed collaboratively and goals identified to meet the consumer’s needs as well as providing referrals for any health professional that can assist with this process.

Chronic: A term used to describe the gradual worsening of condition.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT): A short-term goal oriented psychological treatment. It stresses the importance of thoughts in controlling behaviour and mood.

Community mental health team: Comprises of a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health nurse, social worker and occupational therapist.

Comorbidity: The co-occurrence of two or more disorders (e.g. such as a person having Anxiety Disorder with Depression)

Consumer: A person utilising, or who has utilised, a mental health service.

Counsellor: A Counsellor is a health professional that provides supportive listening and emotional support to individuals dealing with difficulties of varied nature as well as support given to families.

Delusion: A belief, contrary to culturally accepted reality, firmly held in spite of external evidence to the contrary and common in paranoid disorders.

Diagnosis: The determination that the set of symptoms or problems of a person indicates a particular disorder which is described in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV).

Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV): The 4th edition of a manual produced by the American Psychiatric Association to define and classify mental and personality disorders.

ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy): It is often recommended in treatment of severe depression or acute psychosis when other treatments are considered too risky or ineffective.

Efficacy: The ability to produce a desired therapeutic effect that does more good than harm for the patient as seen in clinical trials.

Hallucination: Hallucinations are the perceptive experience that involves sensing things while being alert and/or awake which appear to be rea l, however are most likely created by the mind.

Hallucinogen: A drug or chemical that further leads a person to experience hallucinations. Such drugs that cause this effect includes LSD.

Impairment: An impairment is any loss of function directly resulting from psychiatric problems.

Intake: This involves managing clinical and administrative tasks such as triage and/or assessment.

Intervention: The act of taking initiative in order to modify and improve a health related matter.

Mania: An emotional state of intense unfounded elation evidenced in talkativeness, flight of ideas and distractibility, grandiose plans and spurts of purposeless activity. It is considered a component of ‘bipolar disorder’ in DSM IV.

Mental disorder: Clinically, a recognised and diagnosable mental illness with a specific set of symptoms meeting certain criteria in the DSM IV. Legally, in the Mental Health Act, a mental disorder refers to a short, acute disruption in a person’s functioning due to a life crisis.

Mental health: Mental health is a state of well being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his/her community (WHO, 2001).

Mental health literacy: Mental Health Literacy is the ability to recognize a specific disorder; knowing how to seek mental health information; knowledge of risk factors and causes of self treatments and of professional help available; and attitudes that promote recognition and appropriate help seeking.

Mental health nurse: A specialised type of nurse who cares for people with mental illness. The term ‘psychiatric nurse’ is also used.

Mental health promotion: Action to maximize mental health and wellbeing among populations and individuals.

Mental health treatment plan: An outcome of proposed treatment counselling, management, rehabilitation or other service to promote recovery.

Occupational therapist: Helps people to participate fully in activities of daily life, to promote health and wellbeing.

Outreach services: A systematic effort to provide mental health and wellbeing services to individuals in need who are geographically disadvantaged.

Paranoia: The general terms for delusions of persecution, grandiosity or both, found in several pathological conditions.

Perinatal: Refers to the period during pregnancy and up to a year after birth.

Prevention: Interventions that occur before the initial onset of a disorder.

Prognosis: A prognosis is a prediction of the likely course or outcome of a particular illness.

Protective factors: Those factors that produce a resilience to the development of psychological difficulties in the face of adverse risk factors.

Psychiatrist: A Medical Practitioner with specialist training in psychiatry who is able to prescribe medication for medical conditions.

Psychologist: A health professional who prescribes therapy or counselling as treatment for mental health problems.

Psychosis: A severe mental disorder in which thinking and emotion are so impaired that the individual is seriously out of contact with reality.

Psychotherapy: A primarily verbal means of helping individuals change their thoughts feelings and behaviour to reduce distress and achieve greater life satisfaction.

Recovery: Recovery is oriented towards the reconstruction of meaning and purpose in one’s life, the experience of wellness and satisfaction with one’s life.

Rehabilitation: The process of resuming optimal personal and social functioning in an environment that is supportive of existing abilities.

Resilience: Capacities within a person that promote positive outcomes, such as mental health and wellbeing, and provide protection from factors that might otherwise place that person at risk of adverse health outcomes.

Risk factors: Those characteristics that make it more likely that an individual will develop a disorder.

Self esteem: Self Esteem is characterized as the perception an individual has of themselves and how their self belief affect their social and emotional well being.

Self-harm: A deliberate injury to one’s own body.

Self-help groups: A self-help group is a place where members are encouraged to improve their wellbeing through certain activities and the application of new skills learnt within the group. Self-help groups may also draw on, or offer a bridge to, professional assistance.

Social worker: A Social Worker i.s a health professional that provides support to people and their families going through a crisis point. The social worker is able to provide practical support, counselling, information and emotional support.

Suicide: The initial taking of one’s own life.

Support groups: A Support Group is a place where a group of people meet to provide emotional support and exchange information and past experiences.

Supported accommodation: Subsidized rental accommodation enabling the consumer to access health and/or disability support workers when required.

Triage: A triage priorities the service type, need and urgency based on assessment risk, need and dysfunction. A service request is created and a referral to an appropriate service may be made.

Wellbeing: The state of being and maintaining a balance of physical mental and emotional health.

Worrying: To worry is the sense of feeling uneasy or concerned about a person, circumstance or event.

Copyright: Mental Health Association NSW

1300 794991