Information for the public

Terms explained

Antipsychotic medication

A type of medication that is sometimes used to treat serious changes in mental state (such as hallucinations and delusions).


Feelings of worry or fear that can be difficult to control.

Arts therapies

Psychological treatments that help people with mental health problems to express themselves and work through their problems using art, music, dance or drama.


Meeting with a health or social care professional to discuss your mental and physical health, family background and everyday life, to find out what the illness is, how severe it is and the most suitable treatments.

Bipolar disorder

A mental health problem in which a person has periods of mania (extreme happiness or feeling 'high' and over‑confident) and periods of depression.

Care plan

A plan of your treatment and care, which also includes what you can do to keep well and how to manage your symptoms.

Carer's assessment

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

Child and adolescent mental health service (or CAMHS for short, pronounced 'cams')

A service that provides treatment for and supports children and young people with mental health problems and their parents and carers.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

A psychological therapy that aims to reduce feelings of distress, to help people cope with symptoms and to support people in carrying out everyday tasks. It helps people by making links between their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and their current or past symptoms and can help people to re‑evaluate their beliefs, feelings or behaviour in relation to their illness.


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.


An illness caused by having too much sugar in the blood. The main symptoms are feeling tired, thirsty and needing to go to the toilet more than usual, and having blurred vision.


Identifying an illness or problem after having considered the person's symptoms.

Early intervention in psychosis service

A service that provides early identification and treatment to people aged 14 to 35 who have symptoms of psychosis. The service should be able to provide a full range of psychological therapy, antipsychotic medication and other support.


A test to record the rhythm and activity of the heart.

Family intervention

A psychological therapy that supports families to work together to help people with psychosis or schizophrenia and to reduce stress in family members. It aims to help family members develop communication, problem solving, information sharing and coping skills as well as increasing family members' knowledge and understanding.

Newer (second generation) antipsychotic medications

A type of antipsychotic medication first developed during the 1990s, sometimes called 'atypical' antipsychotic medications. Examples are aripiprazole, olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine. Older (first generation) antipsychotic medications were developed in the 1950s.

Personality disorder

A condition that leads to a person having unstable moods, thoughts, behaviour and self‑image.

Psychological therapy

A treatment that involves meeting with a healthcare professional to talk about feelings and thoughts and how these affect behaviour and wellbeing.


An expression of personal distress by a person who hurts themselves. Common methods of self‑harm include cutting oneself or taking too many tablets or recreational drugs.

Side effect

An unwanted symptom caused by a medicine or other treatment.

Supportive psychotherapy

A type of psychological therapy similar to counselling. The content of the sessions is largely determined by the person having treatment rather than the healthcare professional, who will listen and offer support.

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