Jargon Buster

Acronyms, phrases, jargon, and medical terms... it can all get a bit confusing.

That's why we have developed this jargon buster to help you make sense of what you might hear.



Advanced clinical practitioners come from a range of backgrounds, including nursing, pharmacy, paramedics and occupational therapists. They are healthcare professionals who have undertaken further education to develop their skills, this means many of them are also qualified to prescribe medication.


An assessment is a professional’s view of what a young person’s needs maybe, this is typically done by professionals such as: psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers etc.


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. An NHS service that supports children, young people and their families when a child or young person is experiencing mental health difficulties. The service is made up of a number of specialist teams who work closely together and staff such as mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and other practitioners.


Capacity or mental capacity is the ability to make decisions for yourself, including being able to make decisions about your care. Sometimes people may ‘lack capacity’ because of certain illnesses, injuries, learning disabilities or mental health problems.

Care Plan/Treatment Plan

A care plan or treatment plan is a map of actions that identifies your needs and strengths as a young person. This plan can help both you and your mental health professional identify what things may be difficult for you, so you can plan goals and treatments together that maybe helpful.


The concerns that have been shared with us means that we think it could be helpful to offer you a mental health assessment to see if we are the best service to help you at this time. We call this assessment a Choice appointment and it is where you will attend one of our clinics and meet with a member of the team. We will ask lots of questions and this helps us to build up a picture of how life is for you. The assessment takes about an hour, but can be different for everyone who comes.

A Choice assessment doesn’t always mean that you will have any further appointments with CAMHS.


Comorbidity in mental health refers to the occurrence of more than one mental health condition, for example a person may have depression and anxiety.


Meaning that any information you provide to CAMHS services must be kept private unless you consent to it being shared with other people. If there are concerns about your safety or the safety of someone else, confidentiality may be broken. Staff at CAMHS will always try to tell you if they need to share your information with anyone else.


Saying ‘yes’ to something that affects you. You may also hear ‘informed consent’ which means that you are fully informed and understand what you are saying yes to. If you are unable to consent because of your age or you do not fully understand, we may ask your family/carers to consent on your behalf.


Care Quality Commission are the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England.


A crisis in mental health is a situation requiring change. A crisis in this context often relates to suicidal urges or thoughts of seriously harming yourself or someone else. Crises can be very unpleasant but can be an opportunity for real, positive change.

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis it’s important to talk to someone and get urgent help.

Early Intervention

Early intervention is when a mental health condition is identified and treated at an early stage, which can reduce the long-term impact of the condition.


Helping people to develop the skills, knowledge, belief and power to take charge of their lives, including being able to manage their own mental health and knowing when to seek support if they need it.

Evidence-based treatment

This means when a certain treatment or approach (such as therapy) has been tested or studied and found to work well for certain conditions/difficulties.


Health care assistants in mental health will take physical observations to monitor and record a patient’s health, by taking temperatures, pulse, blood pressure, respirations and weight.

Hospital/inpatient admission or Tier 4 service

Sometimes people need more intensive support to help them get better and will need to be admitted to an inpatient unit.


Another word for support or treatment to help you get better.


To have an effect or influence on a situation or person.

Mental health nurse

Is a specialised type of nurse who cares for individuals with mental health needs. They are sometimes referred to as psychiatric nurses.


Multi-disciplinary team. Means lots of different staff who have different skills and expertise - such as mental health practitioners, nurses, doctors all in one team. This is to ensure the child/young person can get the right kind of help for them.

Occupational therapist

An occupational therapist helps people to participate fully in activities of daily life, helping to promote health and wellbeing.


Partnership is what we call our treatment/care that we offer you. We call it partnership as we work in partnership with you to work through some of your difficulties. Our role is to assess your mental health and to help your recovery empowering you to become an independent young adult. A maximum of 6-8 sessions is typically the average number of appointments you should need however some people need less and occasionally some people need more. If you no longer feel you need our help, please let us know.

Protective factors

Protective factors are things in a person’s life which can protect them from risks that can increase the chances of mental illness, or worsening mental health. Protective factors can be things like having good relationships with friends and family, and being involved positively with your community.


A doctor who specialises in mental health care and can prescribe any necessary medication or make diagnoses.


Psychologists are professionals trained in psychological assessments, treatments and interventions, in order to help people with mental health difficulties. Some psychologists focus on brain-based (physical) explanations, where as others focus on thoughts, feeling and how people understand themselves and the world around them.

Routine outcome measures (ROMS)

Before and after the Choice appointment (see CHOICE) you will be asked to complete ROMS. These measures help both you and us to clinically assess your level of need and help you think about the goals that you want to achieve. There are no right or wrong answers and don’t worry about your spelling!

Risk factors

Risk factors are things that can increase the chances of mental health difficulties developing or worsening. These can be as a results of harmful experiences or current challenging circumstance.


Safeguarding refers to protecting your rights to live safely and to be free from abuse or neglect. Local authorities have a legal duty to protect people who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing abuse or neglect.


Sign-posting is when you are given information regarding a service or services which may be helpful for you.

Single point of access or SPA

One place where all CAMHS referrals go and staff in CAMHS and other agencies can work out which specialist team would be best placed to help you.


The acronym SMHS can either stand for Specialist Mental Health Services or School Mental Health Services. Both refer to services provided to support a child/ young persons mental health.  

Social care

Services provided by local councils to protect and support the needs and welfare of children.

Social worker

A social worker is a health professional that provides support to young people and their families when they may need it. Social workers are able to provide practical support, counselling, information and emotional support.

Family and systemic psychotherapist

A Family and Systemic Psychotherapist helps people to help themselves by exploring different factors that effects people and the systems they live in. They work with individuals and/or the whole family. They will help emphasise the strengths, resilience and resources available and how everyone helps contribute to the functioning of the system.

Fight or flight

The flight, fight or freeze response is a natural response we have to protect ourselves from danger. When we are exposed to a threat or perceived threat our body will either fight, flight or freeze. This was a very useful instinct to have as hunter gatherers, as it meant we were able to react quickly to danger and avoid being harmed. However, this response can sometimes happen to us when there is no real threat, this can cause the physical symptoms that we feel with anxiety or panic, such as a racing heart, feeling sweaty, feeling faint and breathing quickly.

Transition plan

A transition plan is a plan made with a young person and CAMHS when a young person is turning 18 and will leave CAMHS and go on to AMHS (Adult Mental Health Services).


Trauma can happen when a person has gone through a very stressful, frightening or distressing event. Traumatic events can happen at any age and have a lasting impact. Sometimes people are impacted quickly following a traumatic event, whereas others aren’t effected for a long time.

Risk assessment

An assessment to identify highlight if there are any risks that may impact you or others, which is regularly updated through your time with CAMHS.


The process of helping you feel better or mentally well after a period of illness or experienced difficulties. However, in mental health recovery means different things to different people, and recovery is personal. What’s important is building a life that is meaningful to you as an individual.


A state of being happy, healthy and comfortable. This involves both physical and mental wellbeing, as they are equally as important.



Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a talking therapy that aims to help people live a more meaningful and productive life. It helps people learn to accept what cannot be controlled, whilst recognising and committing to taking the actions needed to improve their life.


Cognitive Analytic Therapy, is a talking therapy which focuses on looking at the way a young person thinks, feels and acts, and the events and relationships that underlie these experiences. Sessions are tailored to a young person’s individual needs and their own manageable goals for change. It is a time-limited therapy - between 4 and 24 weeks, but typically 16.  Sessions aim to help young people make sense of their situation and to find ways of making changes for the better.


Cognitive behavioural therapy. A type of talking therapy where people can identify any issues and talk them out. It explores the link between emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and teaches people effective ways to cope and manage their issues. CBT has also been adapted for specific needs, such as TF-CBT, which is trauma focused CBT, and CBT-E, which is CBT for eating disorders.


Compassion Focused Therapy aims to help people improve their mental health by encouraging them to be compassionate towards themselves and others. It can help combat difficult feeling and thoughts such as shame and self-criticism


Dialectical behaviour therapy. Another type of talking therapy which is like cognitive behaviour therapy but is for people who feel emotions very intensely and need help regulating their emotions. Normally this therapy is held in groups where young people can be taught useful skills of mindfulness, emotional regulation and more.


Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that helps with emotional distress associated with traumatic memories. It involves focusing on something external and making specific eye movement while working through distressing memories. This helps the brain to create new associations, which can help ease the emotional distress these memories can cause.

Exposure response prevention therapy (ERP)

Exposure response prevention is a form of CBT (see: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). This is often used in the treatment of OCD (see: OCD) and phobias (see: Phobias). It involved exposing yourself with the help of a therapist to things like objects or ideas that ‘trigger’ your anxiety. This is done in a controlled way that teaches you skills to feel less anxious when exposed to these things.


A collaborative process between a mental health professional and a young person. The purpose of a formulation is so both the young person and professional can understand the young person’s main difficulties, so they can plan on how to deal with or manage them.

Goals and goal based outcomes

Goals in therapy are about what the person attending therapy wants to achieve. Goals should be discussed and agreed by the person attending therapy and the mental health professional.

Goal-Based Outcomes (GBO’s) are scales, usually zero-to-ten that helps you and the mental health professional know where you are currently at and to help see any improvements made throughout therapy.


Interpersonal Therapy is a talking therapy which helps people to understand relationships they have with other people and how this may impact their mental health, whilst helping them learn to build more positive relationships.

Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a type of counselling which can help people gain the motivation in order to change particular behaviours. It is mainly used to treat addiction or to help people find ways to manage health condition.


Non-violent Resistance Programme is a parenting approach which is inspired by those who have bought about change in society in a non-violent way, such as Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. It offers tools and techniques for parents/carers of young people with challenging behaviours.

Systemic and family therapy

Systemic and family therapy focuses on each family member’s individual needs and their relationship with other family members. This helps families to understand and support one another and develop new ways to talk to each other. This can help create an environment in which everyone supports each other promoting health and wellbeing.


Theraplay is a special therapy designed to help people to build trust and relationships with those who care for them and increase self-esteem. It is based on typical patterns of play and is designed to be enjoyable and positive.



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A condition that affects people's behaviour, where they may seem restless, have trouble concentrating and act on impulse. Find out more.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is a mental health condition under the classification of a feeding and eating disorder. Anorexia is when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible through restricting their food and/or over exercising. Find out more.


Anxiety is a feeling of worry, uneasiness or fear that is experienced as a combination of physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Find out more.


Autism spectrum condition. A developmental condition which affects how a person interacts with others and sees the world around them. Find out more.

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder 

Avoidant/Restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is when a person shows a lack of interest in eating or avoids eating based on fears around eating due to things such as the texture of food or choking. This is different to anorexia nervosa. Find out more.


Eating disorder. A mental health condition where people use unhealthy eating behaviours as a way of feeling in control to cope with difficult situations or feelings. Find out more.

Binge eating disorder

Binge Eating is mental health condition under the classification of a feeding and eating disorder. Binge eating is when someone eats a large amount of food in a short amount of time, and the person feels this happens outside of their control. Find out more.

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is mental health condition under the classification of a feeding and eating disorder. Bulimia is when someone eats a large amount of food (binges) and then tries to control this by deliberately being sick or using laxative (purges).Find out more.


You may get dizzy when you have an anxiety. It can make you feel light headed or a feeling of spinning inside rather than in the environment. Sometimes there is a sense of swaying even though you are standing still.


Generalised anxiety disorder is different to anxiety – it’s a long-term mental health condition that causes anxious feelings about a wide range of situations or experiences, rather than one specific event. People feel anxious most days and struggle to feel relaxed. Find out more.

Low mood and depression

It is normal to feel sad or down sometimes, however when these negative feelings last a long time, are intense, and affect your daily life, this may be depression. It may affect the way you think, feel and behave. Find out more.


Obsessive compulsive disorder. A mental health condition where uncontrollable and unwanted thoughts (obsession) that may lead a person to experience repetitive behaviours (compulsion). Find out more.

Panic disorder

An anxiety disorder where people regularly experience panic attacks leading to unwanted mental and physical symptoms such as tingling in your fingers, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, a sense of dread or sudden fear. Find out more.


Overwhelming, intense fear of an object, animal, feeling, place or situation that is not causing immediate danger. Fear is normal feeling; however, phobias are different to experiencing fear as they are debilitating. Find out more.


Where someone sees or hears that are not really there (hallucinations) or believes things that are not actually true (delusions). People may also feel disconnected to reality. Find out more.


Post traumatic stress disorder. A mental health condition caused by experiencing a traumatic or frightening event. Find out more.


Self-harm or self-injury is when someone deliberately causes harm or pain to themselves, normally to relieve distressing feelings. Find out more.

If you’re hurting or causing harm to yourself it’s important to talk to someone and get urgent help.

Suicidal thoughts

Negative thoughts someone experiences when they want to end their life, particularly when feeling in crisis. Find out more.

If you’re experiencing these suicidal thoughts it’s important to talk to someone and get urgent help.

Unspecified feeding or eating disorder

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder is a mental health condition under the classification of a feeding and eating disorder. It is an eating disorder that causes clinically significant distress or impairment but does not meet the full criteria for any of the other disorders.

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