General Mental Health Terms

A naturally occurring hormone that increases heart rate and blood pressure and affects other body functions. Also called epinephrine.

Adverse Reaction
Negative or unwanted effect caused by a medication. Also called side effect.

Medications used to prevent seizures. They're sometimes prescribed as mood stabilizers to treat depression or other mood disorders.

Medications that improve or relieve symptoms of depression or other psychiatric disorders by affecting brain chemistry.

Medications used to treat psychotic illnesses. Also known as neuroleptic medications.

A professional review of child and family needs that is done when services are first sought from a caregiver. The assessment of the child includes a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, family situation, and behavior in the community. The assessment identifies the strengths of the child and family. Together, the caregiver and family decide what kind of treatment and supports, if any, are needed.

Average Length of Stay
This represents the average time a client receives a specified service during a specified time period. This is generally computed by counting all the days that clients received the service during the time period and dividing by the number of clients that received the service during the same period. Days a person was on furlough or not receiving services are not counted.

A class of sedative medications sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders.

Chemical Imbalance
Having too much or too little of such brain neurotransmitters as serotonin or dopamine, which may play a role in depression and other mental illnesses.

A term used to describe long-lasting diseases or conditions.

Case Manager
An individual who organizes and coordinates services and supports for children with mental health problems and their families. Alternate terms: service coordinator, advocate, and facilitator.

Case Management
A service that helps people arrange for appropriate services and supports. A case manager coordinates mental health, social work, educational, health, vocational, transportation, advocacy, respite care, and recreational services, as needed. The case manager makes sure that the changing needs of the child and family are met. (This definition does not apply to managed care.) Managed care definition: A system requiring that a single individual in the provider organization is responsible for arranging and approving all devices needed under the contract embraced by employers, mental health authorities, and insurance companies to ensure that individuals receive appropriate, reasonable health care services.

Child Protective Services
Designed to safeguard the child when abuse, neglect, or abandonment is suspected, or when there is no family to take care of the child. Examples of help delivered in the home include financial assistance, vocational training, homemaker services, and daycare. If in-home supports are insufficient, the child may be removed from the home on a temporary or permanent basis. Ideally, the goal is to keep the child with the family whenever possible.

Children and Adolescents at Risk for Mental Health Problems
Children are at greater risk for developing mental health problems when certain factors occur in their lives or environments. Factors include physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, harmful stress, discrimination, poverty, loss of a loved one, frequent relocation, alcohol and other drug use, trauma, and exposure to violence.

Clinical Psychologist
A clinical psychologist is a professional with a doctoral degree in psychology who specializes in therapy.

Clinical Social Worker
Clinical social workers are health professionals trained in client-centered advocacy that assist clients with information, referral, and direct help in dealing with local, State, or Federal government agencies. As a result, they often serve as case managers to help people "navigate the system." Clinical social workers cannot write prescriptions.

Collateral Services
Services that include contacts with significant others involved in the client's/patient's life for the purpose of discussing the client's/patient's emotional or behavioral problems or the collateral's relationship with the client/patient.

Continuum of Care
A term that implies a progression of services that a child moves through, usually one service at a time. More recently, it has come to mean comprehensive services.

Coordinated Services
Child-serving organizations talk with the family and agree upon a plan of care that meets the child's needs. These organizations can include mental health, education, juvenile justice, and child welfare. Case management is necessary to coordinate services.

Emotional reactions a psychotherapist has toward clients based on unconscious needs and conflicts, as opposed to conscious responses. See also transference.

A sudden intensification of symptoms that results in marked inability to function and possibly raising the risk of harm to others or the person in crisis because of overwhelming emotion, disturbed thinking or risky behavior.

Drugs that increase the production of urine. Sometimes used inappropriately by those with eating disorders to lose weight.

A naturally occurring chemical substance in the brain, known as a neurotransmitter that transmits impulses between brain cells. High levels of dopamine have been associated with psychosis and schizophrenia. Low levels have been associated with depression.

DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition)
An official manual of mental health problems developed by the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other health and mental health care providers use this reference book to understand and diagnose mental health problems. Insurance companies and health care providers also use the terms and explanations in this book when discussing mental health problems.

Diagnostic Evaluation
The aims of a general psychiatric evaluation are 1) to establish a psychiatric diagnosis, 2) to collect data sufficient to permit a case formulation, and 3) to develop an initial treatment plan, with particular consideration of any immediate interventions that may be needed to ensure the patient's safety, or, if the evaluation is a reassessment of a patient in long-term treatment, to revise the plan of treatment in accord with new perspectives gained from the evaluation.

A discharge is the formal termination of service, generally when treatment has been completed or through administrative authority.

Early Intervention
A process used to recognize warning signs for mental health problems and to take early action against factors that put individuals at risk. Early intervention can help children get better in less time and can prevent problems from becoming worse.

A planned program to provide psychiatric care in emergency situations with staff specifically assigned for this purpose. Includes crisis intervention, which enables the individual, family members and friends to cope with the emergency while maintaining the individual's status as a functioning community member to the greatest extent possible.

Emergency and Crisis Services
A group of services that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help during a mental health emergency. Examples include telephone crisis hotlines, suicide hotlines, crisis counseling, crisis residential treatment services, crisis outreach teams, and crisis respite care.

Employee Assistance Plan (EAP)
Resources provided by employers either as part of, or separate from, employer-sponsored health plans. EAPs typically provide preventive care measures, various health care screenings, and/or wellness activities.

Family Support Services
Help designed to keep the family together, while coping with mental health problems that affect them. These services may include consumer information workshops, in-home supports, family therapy, parenting training, crisis services, and respite care.

Free Association
In psychotherapy, spontaneous, uncensored expression of thoughts of whatever comes to mind in association with various cues.

Group Therapy
This form of therapy involves groups of usually 4 to 12 people who have similar problems and who meet regularly with a therapist. The therapist uses the emotional interactions of the group's members to help them get relief from distress and possibly modify their behavior.

Home-based Services
Help provided in a family's home either for a defined period of time or for as long as it takes to deal with a mental health problem. Examples include parent training, counseling, and working with family members to identify, find, or provide other necessary help. The goal is to prevent the child from being placed outside of the home. Alternate term: in-home supports.

Independent Living Services. Support for a young person living on his or her own. These services include therapeutic group homes, supervised apartment living, and job placement. Services teach youth how to handle financial, medical, housing, transportation, and other daily living needs, as well as how to get along with others.

Awareness and understanding of the origins and meanings of your attitudes, behaviors and feelings.

Individualized Services
Services designed to meet the unique needs of each child and family. Services are individualized when the caregivers pay attention to the needs and strengths, ages, and stages of development of the child and individual family members.

Individual Therapy
Therapy tailored for a patient/client that is administered one-on-one.

Information and Referral Services
Information services are those designed to impart information on the availability of clinical resources and how to access them. Referral services are those that direct or guide,  a client/patient with appropriate services provided outside of your organization.

In Home Family Services
Mental health treatment and support services offered to children and adolescents with mental illness and to their family members in their own homes or apartments.

Services designed to briefly assess the type and degree of a client's/patient's mental health condition to determine whether services are needed and to link him/her to the most appropriate and available service. Services may include interviews, psychological testing, physical examinations including speech/hearing, and laboratory studies.

Intensive Case Management
Intensive community services for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness that are designed to improve planning for their service needs. Services include outreach, evaluation, and support.

Length of Stay
The duration of an episode of care for a covered person. The number of days an individual stays in a hospital or inpatient facility.

Mental Disorder
A general term for a wide range of disorders that disrupt thinking, feeling, moods and behaviors, causing a varying degree of impaired functioning in daily life, and believed in many instances to be related to brain dysfunction. Also called mental illness.

Mental Health
A general term for a state of emotional and psychological well-being that allows you to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life. Or, the term for your overall emotional and psychological state.

Mixed Episode
A period in which symptoms of both mania and depression occur at the same time or rapidly alternate with one another. Also called mixed type.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
A class of antidepressants that helps brain neurotransmitters remain active longer, which may lead to a reduction in the symptoms of depression.

Medication Therapy
Prescription, administration, assessment of drug effectiveness, and monitoring of potential side effects of psycho-tropic medications.

Mental Health
How a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life's situations. Mental health is how people look at themselves, their lives, and the other people in their lives; evaluate their challenges and problems; and explore choices. This includes handling stress, relating to other people, and making decisions.

Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems are real. They affect one's thoughts, body, feelings, and behavior. Mental health problems are not just a passing phase. They can be severe, seriously interfere with a person's life, and even cause a person to become disabled. Mental health problems include depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and conduct disorder.

Mental Disorders
Another term used for mental health problems.

Mental illnesses
This term is usually used to refer to severe mental health problems in adults.

Naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that act as messengers between nerve cells, affecting brain function and mood. Those associated with depression include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
A designation used as a broad diagnostic category when a person's condition doesn't precisely fit specific psychiatric categories or when a doctor doesn't have enough information for a specific diagnosis.

Nurse Practitioner (NP). A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who works in an expanded role and manages patients' medical conditions.

Nursing Home
An establishment that provides living quarters and care for the elderly and the chronically ill. This includes assisted living outside a nursing home.

Enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to and thinking about yourself and the environment.

Treatment of disease with prescription medications.

Plan of Care
A treatment plan especially designed for each child and family, based on individual strengths and needs. The caregiver(s) develop(s) the plan with input from the family. The plan establishes goals and details appropriate treatment and services to meet the special needs of the child and family.

Psychiatric Emergency Walk-in
A planned program to provide psychiatric care in emergency situations with staff specifically assigned for this purpose. Includes crisis intervention, which enables the individual, family members and friends to cope with the emergency while maintaining the individual's status as a functioning community member to the greatest extent possible and is open for a patient to walk-in.

A psychiatrist is a professional who completed both medical school and training in psychiatry and is a specialist in diagnosing and treating mental illness.

Pertaining to voluntary physical movement.

Pertaining to the relationship of the mind and body. Psychosomatic illnesses are those in which physical symptoms are caused or aggravated by emotional factors.

The term for anyone who provides psychotherapy, with or without specialized licensure or training.

A method of treating mental disorders that involves verbal and nonverbal communication about thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors in individual, group or family sessions. The goal is to change unhealthy patterns of coping, relieve emotional distress and encourage personality growth and improved interpersonal relations. Also called counseling or talk therapy.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation
Therapeutic activities or interventions provided individually or in groups that may include development and maintenance of daily and community-living skills, self-care, skills training includes grooming, bodily care, feeding, social skills training, and development of basic language skills.

Registered Nurse (RN)
A registered nurse is a trained professional with a nursing degree who provides patient care and administers medicine.

Residential Services
Services provided over a 24-hour period or any portion of the day during which a patient resided, on an on-going basis, in a state facility or other facility and received treatment.

Thoughts or actions that are typical of earlier life stages, such as infancy or childhood.

Reappearance of disease signs and symptoms after apparent recovery.

Abatement of signs and symptoms.

Unwilled banishment of disturbing wishes, thoughts or experiences from conscious awareness.

Residential Treatment Centers
Facilities that provide treatment 24 hours a day and can usually serve more than 12 young people at a time. Children with serious emotional disturbances receive constant supervision and care. Treatment may include individual, group, and family therapy; behavior therapy; special education; recreation therapy; and medical services. Residential treatment is usually more long-term than inpatient hospitalization. Centers are also known as therapeutic group homes.

Respite Residential Services
Provision of periodic relief to the usual family members and friends who care for the clients/patients.

Respite Care
A service that provides a break for parents who have a child with a serious emotional disturbance. Trained parents or counselors take care of the child for a brief period of time to give families relief from the strain of caring for the child. This type of care can be provided in the home or in another location. Some parents may need this help every week.

Self-help generally refers to groups or meetings that: involve people who have similar needs; are facilitated by a consumer, survivor, or other layperson; assist people to deal with a "life-disrupting" event, such as a death, abuse, serious accident, addiction, or diagnosis of a physical, emotional, or mental disability, for oneself or a relative; are operated on an informal, free-of-charge, and nonprofit basis; provide support and education; and are voluntary, anonymous, and confidential. Many people with mental illnesses find that self-help groups are an invaluable resource for recovery and for empowerment.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
A class of antidepressant medications that increases the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical responsible for communication between nerves in the brain.

Serious Emotional Disturbances
Diagnosable disorders in children and adolescents that severely disrupt their daily functioning in the home, school, or community. Serious emotional disturbances affect one in 10 young people. These disorders include depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, and eating disorders. Pursuant to section 1912(c) of the Public Health Service Act "children with a serious emotional disturbance" are persons: (1) from birth up to age 18 and (2) who currently have, or at any time during the last year, had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within DSM-III-R.

Serious Mental Illness
Pursuant to section 1912(c) of the Public Health Service Act, adults with serious mental illness SMI are persons: (1) age 18 and over and (2) who currently have, or at any time during the past year had a diagnosable mental behavioral or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within DSM-IV or their ICD-9-CM equivalent (and subsequent revisions) with the exception of DSM-IV "V" codes, substance use disorders, and developmental disorders, which are excluded, unless they co-occur with another diagnosable serious mental illness. (3) That has resulted in functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

A type of support or clinical intervention designed to address the specific mental health needs of a child and his or her family. A service could be provided only one time or repeated over a course of time, as determined by the child, family, and service provider.

Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States, claiming about 30,000 lives a year. Ninety percent of persons who commit suicide have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder. Suicide attempts are among the leading causes of hospital admissions in persons under 35. The highest suicide rates in the U.S. are found in white men over the age of 85. Suicide can be prevented.

Supportive Residential Services
Moderately staffed housing arrangements for clients/patients. Includes supervised apartments, satellite facilities, group homes, halfway houses, mental health shelter-care facilities, and other facilities.

Sexual Abuse
Psychological or physical injury of a sexual nature, such as rape, incest, fondling and indecent exposure.

Negative attitudes about or toward those with mental illness, usually stemming from fear and misunderstanding, and resulting in disgrace, embarrassment or humiliation for those with mental illness.

Intentionally avoiding thinking about disturbing problems, wishes, feelings or experiences.

A subjective manifestation of a condition that's reported by the individual and not observable by others, such as sadness.

Telephone Hotline
A dedicated telephone line that is advertised and may be operated as a crisis hotline for emergency counseling or as a referral resource for callers with mental health problems.

Therapeutic Foster Care
A service which provides treatment for troubled children within private homes of trained families. The approach combines the normalizing influence of family-based care with specialized treatment interventions, thereby creating a therapeutic environment in the context of a nurturing family home.

A stepwise increase or decrease in the prescribed dose of a medication.

Unconsciously attributing to others the feelings and attitudes that were originally associated with important people in your early life, such as your parents or siblings.

Tricyclic Antidepressants
An older class of antidepressants used to treat depression by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.

Unmet Needs
Identified treatment needs of the people that are not being met as well as those receiving treatment that is inappropriate or not optimal.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Services that include job finding/development, assessment and enhancement of work-related skills, attitudes, and behaviors as well as provision of job experience to clients/patients. Includes transitional employment.