Information for the public



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


A meeting with a healthcare professional in which they will ask questions about your physical and mental health, to establish what the illness is, how severe it is and what treatments would suit you best.

Bipolar disorder

A type of mental health problem sometimes known as manic depression. It is a disorder that affects mood, in which a person alternates between feeling low (called depression) and feeling very 'high', happy and over-confident (called mania).


A person (such as a family member or a friend) who has regular close contact with the person with borderline personality disorder and is involved in their care.

Community mental health service

A group of professionals or a healthcare service that includes nurses who may visit people in their own home, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and support workers.


A type of mental health problem that causes a loss of pleasure in things that were once enjoyable, withdrawal from family and friends, negative and self-critical thoughts, and other symptoms, such as feeling tearful, irritable or tired, poor appetite, and sleep problems.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (sometimes called DBT)

An intensive psychological treatment that focuses on enhancing a person's skills in regulating their emotions and behaviour. It aims to address and alter patterns of behaviour by finding a balance or resolving differences (this is what is meant by 'dialectical'). The therapy can help a person gain control of behaviour such as self-harm and substance misuse. The therapy usually takes place over 1 year with weekly one-to-one and group meetings.

Eating disorder

An illness that affects how people feel about their body shape and weight. Common kinds of eating disorder are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

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 receive care in hospital where they can expect as much care and support as anyone else. People treated under the Mental Health Act have a legal right to appeal.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Psychological and physical problems that can sometimes follow threatening or distressing events.

Psychological treatment

A general term used to describe meeting with a therapist to talk about feelings and moods.


A type of medication that helps a person feel relaxed and sleepy.

Sedative antihistamine

A type of medication used to treat a range of ailments including allergies and skin problems, which have non-addictive properties that can also help people sleep and calm them down.


An expression of personal distress by an individual who hurts him or herself. Common methods of self-harm include cutting oneself and taking too many tablets or recreational drugs.