Jargon buster

Mental health jargon buster

Here you’ll find some common jargon used in mental health settings. Needs lots of help to make it useful, so please send your jargon & definitions in. Where there’s a piece of jargon but no definition yet, you’re welcome to send in a definition.

Jargon cartoon.

Approved mental health professional (AMHP) – A mental health practitioner who has been trained to perform a pivotal role in assessing and deciding whether there are grounds to detain without their consent a person who is experiencing mental health problems.

Care programme approach …

Clinical psychologist …

Cognitive behavioural therapy …

Forensic: related to crime, criminal investgations and criminals

Mental Capacity Act – Primarily concerned with providing a legal framework for acting and making decisions on behalf of adults who lack the ability to make a particular decision for themselves.

Mental Health Act – Primarily concerned with providing a legal framework to allow people to be detained in hospital against their will for assessment and treatment of mental health problems (also known as sectioning).

Nearest relative – A close relative who the AMHP has identified from a heirarchy defined in the Mental Health Act. the nearest relative has the right to request an assessment for their relative to be detained in hospital and apply for their relative to be discharged from a section which has been obtained.

Patient / service user / client / consumerhere’s an essay by GP Jonathon Tomlinson (@mellojonny) on the use of these terms

PRN medication – Medication which is given when needed or when a specific situation arises.

Psychiatry – The medical speciality focussed on the assessment and treatment of mental disorder.

Responsible clinician (RC) – The approved clincian with overall responsibility for the service user’s care.

Sectioning – Unofficial term for use of the Mental Health Act to detain a person in hospital against their will.

Stigma – The definition I find helpful is “negative assumptions”; and I describe discrimination as acting on those negative assumptions.



12 Responses to “Jargon buster”

  1. Gemma 11 January 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    CATT – Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team – provides 24/7 assessment and short-term treatment services for people experiencing a serious mental health crisis and for whom there are urgent safety issues. They may be the team temporarily in charge of a persons care after acute discharge or they may care for someone in the community as an alternative to inpatient care if the risk can be managed safely.

    • Sectioned 11 January 2013 at 11:11 pm #

      Thanks, that’s really helpful 🙂

  2. Gemma 11 January 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    Advanced Directive – a document where you can state your preferred treatment in the event that you become unwell and are not deemed capable of making decisions. Preferred treatment can include, medications you do or do not want and wards you would prefer or not prefer to be placed for safety in the event of inpatient care.

    • Sectioned 11 January 2013 at 11:13 pm #

      Another helpful comment – thanks! 🙂

  3. halohalcyon 11 January 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Helpful way to remember the difference behind the main sections used in the MHA:

    D – Definition of the Act (Section 1)
    A – Assessment (being detained for up to 28 days; non-renewable) – Section 2
    T – Treatment (being detained up to 6 months; renewable section) – Section 3
    E – Emergency (detainment of up to 72 hours; similar to section 2 except just one medical opinion is required) – Section 4
    D – Detainment (used to detain an informal/voluntary patient who is attempting to leave and there are concerns about their immediate mental state and safety) – Section 5(2) (doctor’s holding power for up to 72 hours) and Section 5(4) (nurse’s holding power for up to 6 hours).

    • Sectioned 11 January 2013 at 11:06 pm #

      Thanks for your helpful comment & for sharing some of the wisdom from your nursing course 🙂

  4. doricgirl 12 January 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    This is quite useful and amusing…

    Click to access PsychobabbleFeb2012.pdf

  5. Michael 12 January 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Service User – I hate this term and parodied it in my novel. It makes us sound like we’re in mental health services in order to somehow consume some better health. It’s so cold and transactional, a really Orwellian abuse of language. What’s wrong with ‘patient’? It simply comes from the Latin for ‘suffering’ – I think everyone can agree that all who find themselves in MH services are most certainly suffering.

  6. Emma Jones 16 January 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    CPN – community psychiatric nurse

  7. sally 17 January 2013 at 2:24 am #

    ‘take it to the MDT’
    When my son was sectioned and he had an issue whilst on the ward, nurses or mental health support workers wouldn’t answer straight away and instead say ‘take it to the MDt’ (multi disciplinary team meetings).
    When I had an issue with something that had happened on the ward they would say, we’ll take it to the MDT! Just another way to delay an answer.

  8. sally 17 January 2013 at 2:36 am #

    Care plan
    PCT primary care trust
    Section 17 leave
    Section 117 aftercare
    Key nurse
    You’ll lose your leave
    PICU ward intensive care unit
    CBU ward challenging behaviour unit
    Your son is on 5 minute obs
    Intravenous haloperidol
    I could go on!


  1. Mental health nursing: what do newbies need to know? « Sectioned - 11 February 2013

    […] Jargon buster […]

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