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Treatment and support glossary – for young people

Explains words and phrases that you may hear when getting treatment and support for your mental health.

This page is also available in Welsh.

You may find this resource helpful if you're:

  • in hospital for your mental health
  • getting help from a mental health service
  • seeking support for your mental health.

Search for your term

A

Admitted

This means going to a hospital, clinic, or another service to get treatment and support for your mental health.

If you’re admitted to hospital, you might go in as:

  • an outpatient (for an appointment)
  • a day patient (you’ll be there for most of the day but not overnight)
  • or as an inpatient (staying in hospital for at least one night).

Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS)

These are NHS services that support adults with mental health problems.

Advocate

An advocate is someone who can listen to you and help make sure your voice is heard in decisions about you.

If you’re in hospital for your mental health, you might be entitled to an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA).

In Wales, everyone on the ward has the right to an IMHA. In England, only people who’ve been sectioned have a right to an IMHA. But some wards have advocates that voluntary patients can use too. Ask your care team for more information.

Advocates can support you in other situations too. If you live in England, you could contact VoiceAbility or POhWER who offer free advocacy services. If you live in Wales, you could contact the National Youth Advocacy Service.

Approved mental health professional (AMHP)

This is a specially trained social worker or nurse. They're responsible for arranging Mental Health Act Assessments. They’re also responsible for admitting you to hospital if you’re sectioned.

C

Care and Treatment Plan (CTP)

This a support package provided by the NHS for people in Wales who have a mental health problem.

Care co-ordinator 

This is your main point of contact if you’re having ongoing treatment and support for your mental health. They should keep in close contact with you and answer any questions you may have. 

Care order

This when a court gives a local authority (local government) the power to make decisions about a child (someone who is under the age of 18).

The local authority will normally make decisions with parents or carers. But if they’re worried about the child’s wellbeing or safety, they can make decisions by themselves.

Care plan

The name for a plan that explains your mental health problem, what treatment and support you need, and who will provide that support. Care plans might also cover what should happen if you're in a mental health crisis.

There are different types of plans, such as a Care Programme Approach (CPA) or Care and Treatment Plan (CTP). Whatever type of plan you have, you should always be given a copy of it.

Care Programme Approach (CPA)

This is a way of providing NHS support for people in England who have a mental health problem. It means you should have a care co-ordinator and a care plan

Care team

These are the people look after you when you're getting treatment and support for your mental health problem. Your care team might include nurses, doctors and therapists.

They may look after you in hospital, support you through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), or look after you at home.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

These are services that support young people with their mental health. You may also hear them called Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS).

See our page on CAMHS for more information.

Child services

This is a department of social services, run by a local authority (local government), that deals with children and young people’s social care. It's also called children and young people’s services.

Child services can:

  • review your care needs
  • support your parents or carers
  • support you if you have a disability or special educational needs
  • help protect you from harm like domestic abuse.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This is a type of talking therapy with a trained therapist. It can help you look at your thinking patterns and behaviour, to help you find new ways of coping.

CBT may be face-to-face, over the phone or over video call. 

Consent

This is when you agree to something, such as going into hospital or having treatment.

You can’t consent to something unless you are competent to (if you’re 15 or below), or you have capacity (if you’re 16 or above).

Being competent or having capacity means that you understand what you’re consenting to and what might happen if you say yes or no to it.

Counselling

This is a type of talking therapy with a trained counsellor. Counselling can help you:

  • talk through a problem or situation that is negatively affecting your mental health
  • recognise how it affects you
  • work out positive coping strategies or ways to make the situation better.

It may be face-to-face, over the phone or over video call.

Counsellor

Counsellors listen to you and give you a safe space to explore how you’re thinking, feeling and behaving. They also help you find ways to cope with things.

Community Treatment Order (CTO)

This is when you’ve been discharged from hospital but you still need to follow certain rules. For example, taking medication or seeing your doctor. If you become unwell, you could be brought back to hospital.

You can only be put on a CTO if you’ve been on certain sections, like 3 or 37.

See our page on being sectioned for information about the different sections.

Creative therapies

This means using arts (music, drawing, painting, dancing, drama) or playing games to express your thoughts and feelings.

It can also mean doing creative activities to improve your wellbeing and confidence. For example, writing or acting out stories with other young people.

You might take part in creative therapies in a group, or by yourself.

D

Detained

This is when you are kept somewhere, like in hospital, even if you haven’t agreed to it.

In mental health hospitals, you could be detained using a law called the Mental Health Act 1983. This is also called being sectioned.

See our page on being sectioned for more information.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

This is a type of talking therapy. The aim is to help you:

  • understand and accept difficult feelings
  • challenge negative coping strategies
  • learn new ways to manage your feelings.

You might take part in DBT by yourself, or in a group.

Discharge

This means your treatment at a hospital, clinic or other service is ending. You may be discharged because:

  • you’ve completed your treatment
  • you’re old enough to use a different service
  • you’ve asked to leave
  • the next part of your treatment needs to continue somewhere else.

Your care team should explain what this means, and what will happen if you need care in the future.

G

Group therapy

This means being part of a group of young people who attend therapy sessions together. It can be helpful as some problems are better understood with other people. For example, anger, self-esteem or anxiety.

Group therapy is led by a psychologist or therapist. It often combines different types of therapy, like talking therapy or creative therapy.

You might attend group therapy as your main therapy. Or you might have treatment and support on your own as well.

Guardianship

When you're unwell, this is where someone is appointed to be your 'guardian' instead of you being sectioned and kept in hospital.

It's your guardian’s job to make sure you get support for your mental health outside of hospital. Your guardian can also make certain decisions about you. For example, they can decide where you live or make sure you go to important appointments.  

You can only be put on a guardianship if you’re 16 or above and it’s essential for your safety or someone else’s.

H

Hospital managers

Hospital managers are a group of people who are responsible for the use of the Mental Health Act 1983 in a hospital.

If you’re sectioned and you want your section to end, you can ask the hospital managers. They will hold a meeting and consider your case. They can decide to end your section even if your main doctor (known as your responsible clinician) doesn’t agree.

I

Informal patient

This is another phrase for voluntary patient. It means that you, or someone who looks after you, agree for you to stay in hospital to get treatment and support for you mental health.

See our page on being a voluntary patient for more information.

Inpatient care

This is the care you get when you’re staying in hospital. You might be a voluntary patient or you might be sectioned. You might also be having treatment and support for your physical health.

See our pages on being a voluntary patient or being sectioned for more information.

L

Local authority

This is the local government for an area. It provides services for the people who live or are staying in the area. These include health services, social services, schools, transport and housing.

Each local government can decide how services are run. This means that some services in different areas may have different rules.

M

Medical history

Health professionals who look after you can see your medical history. This helps them to give you good care. Your medical history includes details of:

  • how you’ve felt in the past
  • any physical or mental health problems you’ve had
  • if you’ve seen health professionals before and why
  • any treatments or medications you’ve had
  • if you’ve ever been to hospital before.

Mental Health Act Assessment

This is when a group of health professionals meet with you to see if you need to go into hospital to get treatment and support for your mental health. If they all agree that you need to go into hospital, you could be sectioned. You may hear this called an assessment.

Mental Health Act 1983

This is a law that allows people to be sectioned if they have a mental health problem and need treatment. It applies to both England and Wales.

Mental Health Tribunal (MHT)

This is a special court that you can apply to when you’re sectioned. The Tribunal decides whether your section can end. They can also give advice about things like hospital leave, hospital transfers and being put on a Community Treatment Order.

In England, the Tribunal is called the Mental Health Tribunal. In Wales, the Tribunal is called the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales.

When you have a Tribunal hearing, three people make the decisions. These include:

  • a judge
  • a doctor
  • someone with experience and expertise in that area of mental health – usually a social worker or nurse.

See YoungMinds' guide on Mental Health Tribunals for more information.

N

Nearest relative

This is a family member who has certain responsibilities for you if you're sectioned or on a Community Treatment Order (CTO).

You nearest relative should usually be told if you’re going to be sectioned. They can also:

  • say no to you being sectioned under a section 3
  • be given information about your treatment
  • ask for your section to end if you're on a section 2 or section 3.

You can’t choose who your nearest relative is. The Mental Health Act sets out a list of people who it can be. It’s usually the person who is highest up on the list:

  • your mum or dad (usually whoever is oldest)
  • your brother or sister (if they’re over 18)
  • your grandparent
  • your uncle or aunt.

O

Occupational rehabilitation therapy

This is a type of treatment with a trained therapist. It can help you build your confidence and skills in things like cooking, cleaning or taking public transport.

P

Policy

This is a document that sets out how an organisation will act in certain situations. For example, a transition policy should explain how an organisation will manage a young person leaving their services.

Psychiatrist

This is a medical doctor that specialises in mental health (psychiatry). Psychiatrists can:

  • carry out assessments
  • decide with you which treatments to try, including medication
  • be your therapist for a treatment, like group therapy.

Psychologist

Psychologists help you to explore how you’re thinking, feeling and behaving. There are different types of psychologists, like clinical psychologists or occupational psychologists.

Psychiatric hospital

This is a hospital where you go to get treatment and support for your mental health.

R

Referral

This is a request to a service for them to review how you’re feeling and what support you need.

The referral helps explain to the new service why they should see you, and what the best way to help you might be.

Sometimes referrals can be made by yourself, a family member or social worker. But they’re often made by your doctor as they understand your medical history.

Responsible Clinician (RC)

This is the doctor in charge of your care when you’re sectioned.

Only your responsible clinician can make certain decisions, such as giving you leave. They’re also the only person in your care team who can end your section. Although, there are other ways you can end your section.

See our guide on being sectioned for more information.

Restrictive interventions

When you’re in hospital for your mental health, staff can use something called 'restrictive interventions' to protect yourself and others if there is a serious risk of harm.

Restrictive interventions might include:

  • physically holding you to stop you hurting yourself or someone else (sometimes called restraint)
  • giving you medication to calm you down quickly (sometimes called rapid tranquilisation)
  • taking you away from situations which are upsetting you (sometimes called isolation or seclusion)
  • removing you from other young people on the ward for a long time (sometimes called segregation).

Whenever a restrictive intervention is used, special rules must be followed. These include:

  • they must also only be for the shortest time possible
  • your safety and dignity must be protected throughout
  • they must be written down in your notes.

Risk assessment

When you're in hospital, this is when a member of your care team considers the risks and benefits to you of doing or having something. For example, the risks and benefits of going on leave.

S

Sectioned

This means that you’re kept in hospital so you can get treatment and support for your mental health. A law called the Mental Health Act 1983 explains when and how this should happen.

When you’re sectioned, you have to go into hospital even if you don’t want to, or you don’t agree to being there. This is sometimes called being detained.

There are lots of different sections, and they all have different rules to keep you safe.

See our guide on being sectioned for more information.

Section 117 aftercare

Sometimes being sectioned gives you a legal right to support. If you have been sectioned under section 3, 37, 47 or 48, you have a right to support called section 117 aftercare. (See our page on being sectioned for information about the different sections).

Section 117 support will be personal to you, depending on what support you need to stop your mental health from getting worse. And your right to support doesn't end until your care team agree that you no longer need that support.

See our page on being sectioned for information about the different sections.

Section 17 leave

When you're sectioned, this is when your main doctor gives you permission to have time away from the ward. They might set conditions or rules for your leave, like only being allowed to go out with a parent or carer.

T

Talking therapies

These involve talking with a professional about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. There are many types of talking therapies, such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You usually take part for an agreed length of time and number of sessions.

Therapist

This is a trained professional who runs or supervises your therapy. Therapists help you explore how you’re thinking, feeling and behaving, and what can help you in the future.

There are different types of training and education for therapists. This means they all have different titles, like psychologist, therapist, counsellor or psychiatrist.

Therapy

This is treatment that aims to help improve your mental health and wellbeing. There are lots of different types of therapies. Here are some commons ones you might have heard of:

Transition

This is when someone moves on from a children’s service to an adult service. For example, when someone moves on from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS).

See our page on moving to adult services for more information.

V

Voluntary patient

You're a voluntary patient when you, or someone who looks after you, agree for you to stay in hospital to get treatment and support for your mental health. This is sometimes called being an informal patient.

See our page on being a voluntary patient for more information.

W

Ward

This describes the area of the hospital you're staying in. You may also hear it called a unit.

This information was published in December 2020. We will revise it in 2022.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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