A meeting or meetings with a healthcare professional in which they ask questions about a person's physical and mental health, their family background and everyday life, to establish what the illness is, how severe it is and what treatments would suit them best.

Bipolar disorder

A serious mental illness in which a person has periods (or 'episodes') of what is called 'mania' and periods of depression. For this reason, it was once known as 'manic depression'. During a manic episode, people usually feel 'high', or irritable, or both. They may also feel over-confident, sleep less than usual, and take unnecessary risks.

Borderline personality disorder

A condition that affects a person's thoughts, emotions and behaviour. The symptoms include: having emotions that are up and down, thinking differently about yourself depending on who you are with, difficulty in making and maintaining relationships, taking risks, self-harm, and sometimes believing in things that are not real or true (called delusions) or seeing or hearing things that are not really there (called hallucinations).


People who provide regular and substantial care to a person with a mental and/or physical health problem.

Carer's assessment

An assessment by social services of a carer's physical and mental health and their needs in their role as a carer. Every person aged 16 years and older who cares for someone on a regular basis has the right to request such an assessment. There should be a written carer's plan, which is given to the carer.


A common mental health problem, the main symptoms of which are losing pleasure in things that were once enjoyable and losing interest in everyday activities and other people. Many people with bipolar disorder also have depression.

Mental Health Act

A law that allows a person with a mental disorder to be treated against their will, or without their agreement, if they are judged to be a serious risk to themselves or others. This is sometimes called 'being sectioned'. A person treated under the Mental Health Act will usually receive care in hospital, or less commonly out of hospital. People treated under the Mental Health Act have a legal right to appeal.

Mentally capable

Being able to understand information about treatments and weigh it up in order to make a decision about whether or not to have a particular treatment.

Primary care

A part of the healthcare service that includes GPs and mental health teams (such as mental health workers, mental health practitioners, and psychologists).

Psychological treatment

A treatment sometimes called a 'talking treatment' that involves meeting with a therapist to talk about feelings and thoughts and how these affect behaviour and wellbeing.


A serious mental illness that affects a person's mental state, including their thoughts, mood and behaviour. The main symptoms are hallucinations and delusions. Because of these symptoms the person may not be able to think clearly or concentrate. They may lose interest in things, lack motivation and become withdrawn from other people.

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