Mental Health Definitions

I have collected these definitions from numerous sources. I thought you might "file" them somewhere in case you need them. - Chris Summerville

Mental Health

  1. A state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.
  2. A branch of medicine that deals with the achievement and maintenance of psychological well-being.
  3. A person's overall emotional and psychological condition.

Acting Out. Expressing emotional conflict or stress through behavior and actions rather than reflections or feelings.

Addiction. Physical or emotional dependence, or both, on a substance, such as alcohol or drugs, usually resulting in the need for increasing amounts of the substance to achieve the same desired effect or continued use despite adverse consequences.

Affect (AF-ekt). Current, observable state of feeling or emotion, such as sadness, anger or elation.

Affective Disorder. A type of mental disorder that primarily affects mood and interferes with the ability to function, such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Agnosia (ag-NO-zhuh). Loss of the ability to interpret stimuli. Usually classified according to the sense or senses affected, such as the inability to identify certain sounds or to recognize familiar objects by sight.

Akathisia (ak-uh-THIH-zhuh). A condition of excessive restlessness that causes one to move about constantly, fidget or pace. Can be a side effect of certain medications

Anhedonia (an-he-DO-ne-uh). Reduced or complete inability to feel pleasure from activities that usually produce happiness.

Antidepressants. Medications that improve or relieve symptoms of depression by affecting brain chemistry.

Antipsychotics. Medications used to treat psychotic illnesses. Also known as neuroleptic medications.

Anxiety. An unpleasant emotional and physical state of overwhelming apprehension and fear.

Anxiety disorder. A group of conditions marked by persistent, extreme or pathological anxiety that's manifested by disturbances in mood or emotions, as well as physiological activity, such as elevated blood pressure, rapid breathing and rapid heart rate.

Benzodiazepine (ben-zo-di-AZ-uh-pene). A class of sedative medications sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders.

Borderline personality disorder. A type of personality disorder characterized by instability in the perception of self and others, unstable personal relationships, intense anger, feelings of emptiness and fears of abandonment.

Clinical trial. An experiment or investigation designed to test the effectiveness and possible side effects of a treatment in humans. The trial is designed using scientific methods and sometimes compares standard therapy or a placebo with the test therapy.

Cognitive. Pertaining to the mental process of thought, including perception, reasoning, intuition and memory.

Cognitive Disorders. The set of disorders consisting of significant impairment of cognition or memory that's a marked deterioration from a previous level of functioning.

Comorbidity. Two or more diseases or conditions occurring at the same time, such as anxiety disorder and depression.

Cycling. The swings in mood in bipolar disorder from depression to mania.

Delirium. A state of mental confusion, sometimes characterized by disordered speech and often accompanied by hallucinations.

Delusions. A firmly held belief with no basis in reality — that is, clinging to a belief even when the evidence shows that it's false.

Dementia. Mental deterioration with prominent effects on memory and behaviour arising from organic causes, such as Alzheimer's disease or the cumulative effects of small strokes.

Denial. Refusal to acknowledge some aspect of reality or personal experience.

Depersonalization. An alteration in the perception or experience of one's self, so that the self is felt to be unreal, detached from reality or one's own body or mental processes.

Depression. A mood state that may be mild and short-lived or more severe and persistent. The latter, a mood disorder, is characterized by extreme sadness, hopelessness, lack of self-worth and discouragement. Signs and symptoms include disruption of sleeping and eating patterns and lack of energy. Also called clinical depression, major depression and major depressive disorder.

Detoxification. The process of cleansing the body of a drug, such as alcohol or other chemicals.

Dissociation (dih-so-she-A-shun). A breakdown in the normally integrated functions of consciousness, identity, memory or perception of one's self or surroundings.

Dissociative identity disorder. An uncommon disorder involving a disturbance in identity, in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (identities) influence or direct behaviour at different times. Sometimes called multiple personality disorder.

Dopamine (DOE-puh-mene). A naturally occurring chemical substance in the brain known as a neurotransmitter that transmits impulses between brain cells. High levels of dopamine have been associated with psychosis and schizophrenia. Low levels have been associated with depression.

Double depression. An episode of major depression that occurs along with dysthymia, a chronic, long-term mild depression.

Dyskinesia (dis-kih-NE-zhuh). Involuntary muscle activity causing distorted movement of the lips, tongue, neck, arms or trunk, sometimes as a side effect of certain medications.

Dysphoria. An emotional state characterized by malaise, anxiety, depression or unease.

Dysthymia (dis-THI-me-uh). A type of depression that is long-lasting — 2 to 5 years or more — and is less severe than major depression, characterized by a persistent gloomy mood. Sometimes called chronic depression or dysthymic disorder.

Dysthymic Disorder. See dsythymia.

Eating Disorder. Mental disorders characterized by abnormal and potentially harmful eating behaviours and habits, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Efficacy. A measure of how well a medication works to relieve signs and symptoms of a condition.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). A mental disorder that causes extreme worry and tension for 6 months or more.

Hallucination. A sensory perception with no basis in reality; may be seen, heard, touched or smelled.

Insight. Awareness and understanding of the origins and meanings of one's own attitudes, behaviours and feeling lethargy. A feeling of tiredness, drowsiness or lack of energy.

Major Depression. See depression.

Malaise. A general feeling of illness, discomfort and uneasiness.

Mania. A mood disorder characterized by an intense feeling of elation or irritability and rapidly changing moods (mood lability), often accompanied by increased activity, rapid speech or distractibility.

Manic Depression. See bipolar disorder.

Melancholia. An older term for depression; sometimes used today to refer to especially severe depression.

Mental Disorder. A general term for a wide range of disorders that disrupt thinking, feeling, moods and behaviours, causing a varying degree of impaired functioning in daily life, and believed in many instances to be related to brain dysfunction. Also called mental illness.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). A class of antidepressants that help brain neurotransmitters remain active longer, which may lead to a reduction in the symptoms of depression.

Mood. One's experience of emotion that can influence perception of the world.

Nervous Breakdown. A nonmedical term sometimes used by the public to describe an episode of overwhelming distress or depression.

Neuroleptics. See antipsychotics.

Neuron. A single nerve cell.

Neurotransmitters. Naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that act as messengers between nerve cells, affecting brain function and mood. Those associated with depression include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.Neurotransmitters serve as data messengers, transmitting information from one nerve cell (neuron) to another across a gap called a synapse....

Obsession. A recurrent unwanted thought, image or impulse that's distressing and comes to mind despite efforts to suppress or ignore it.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder. An anxiety disorder characterized by intense, unwanted and distressing recurrent thoughts (obsessions) and repeated behaviours (compulsions) that are beyond the person's control.

Panic Attack. A period of sudden, intense apprehension, fearfulness or terror often associated with impending doom and accompanied by physiological symptoms, such as shortness of breath, palpitations, pounding heart or chest discomfort.

Panic Disorder. An anxiety disorder characterized by chronic unexpected episodes of potentially disabling intense fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat and dizziness.

Paranoia. A mental disorder, or an element of several other mental illnesses, characterized by suspicion, delusions of persecution and jealousy.

Passive Aggression. Indirectly and unassertively expressing aggression toward others, masking resentment or hostility.

Personality. Enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to and thinking about oneself and the environment.

Pharmacotherapy. Treatment of disease with prescription medications.

Phobia. A persistent, excessive fear of a specific object, activity or situation, resulting in a compelling desire to avoid that which provokes it.

Placebo. A nondrug, physically inactive substance given as part of a clinical research study. It has no specific pharmacologic activity against illness. Sometimes called a sugar pill.

Postpartum Depression. A type of depression that occurs after childbirth.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A type of anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive memories of a traumatic or highly stressful event, often characterized by nightmares, flashbacks, depression, hopelessness and loss of interest in activities.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). A severe form of premenstrual syndrome whose symptoms include severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, irritability and tension.

Projection. Falsely attributing one's own feelings, impulses or thoughts to another person.

Psychiatrist. A medical doctor (M.D.) or an osteopathic doctor (D.O.) who has completed advanced training in psychiatry.

Psychiatry. Specialty of medicine devoted to the study, treatment and prevention of mental disorders.

Psychogenic. Originating in the mind or pertaining to the development of the mind.

Psychologists. Specialists in psychology who can provide evaluation, assessment, testing and treatment of mental disorders. Usually have a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in psychology.

Psychology. Branch of science that deals with the mind, mental processes and behaviours.

Psychomotor. Pertaining to voluntary physical movement.

Psychosis. A mental disturbance characterized by a loss of contact with reality. Delusions and hallucinations are often present.

Psychotherapist. Term for anyone who provides psychotherapy, with or without specialized licensure or training.

Psychotherapy. A method of treating mental disorders that involves verbal and nonverbal communication about thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours in individual, group or family sessions in order to change unhealthy patterns of coping, relieve emotional distress and encourage personality growth and improved interpersonal relations. Also called counselling or talk therapy.

Psychotic. Delusions or hallucinations that cause disorganized thinking, unusual behaviours and loss of touch with reality.

Relapse. Reappearance of disease signs and symptoms after apparent recovery.

Remission. Abatement of signs and symptoms.

Schizophrenia. A severe, chronic mental disorder caused by brain dysfunction, resulting in hallucinations, delusions, distorted thinking and other disturbances.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A cyclical type of depression related to a change in season; usually develops with the onset of the winter season, when sunlight is limited, and fades with spring.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). A class of antidepressant medications that increase the level of serotonin in the brain, a chemical responsible for communication between nerves in the brain.

Self-Esteem. Opinion of one's self.

Serotonin (ser-oh-TOE-nin). A type of neurotransmitter believed to influence mood.

Sexual Abuse. Psychological or physical injury of a sexual nature, such as rape, incest, fondling and indecent exposure.

Side Effects. Unwanted changes produced by medication or other treatment.

Sign. An objective manifestation of a condition that's observable, such as rapid speech or fever, rather than reported by the person with the condition. See also symptom.

Split Personality. A nonmedical term sometimes used to describe dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder) or, incorrectly, schizophrenia.

Stigma. Negative attitudes about or toward those with mental illness, usually stemming from fear and misunderstanding, and resulting in disgrace, embarrassment or humiliation for those with mental illness.

Suicidal ideation. Thoughts of suicide or a desire to end one's life.

Suicide. Intentionally taking one's own life.

Symptom. A subjective manifestation of a condition that's reported by the individual and not observable by others, such as sadness. See also sign.

Synapse. The junction between two nerve cells (neurons).

Tardive dyskinesia (TAHR-div dis-kih-NE-zhuh). An abnormal, involuntary movement disorder of the facial area, trunk or extremities, sometimes resulting from treatment with certain antipsychotic medications.

Thought disorder. Mental disorders with impaired perception of reality, such as schizophrenia.

Tic. An involuntary muscle spasm, usually of the face, head, neck or shoulder; a twitch.

Titration. A stepwise increase or decrease in the prescribed dose of a medication.

Tolerability. Term used to indicate how well medications can be tolerated or endured, so that side effects don't cause discontinuation of use.

Tranquilizer. A medication used to reduce tension and anxiety.

Unipolar Depression. See depression.

Withdrawal. The process of stopping a drug.

Accessible services  Publication
Services that are affordable, located nearby, and open during evenings and weekends. Staff is sensitive to and incorporates individual and cultural values. Staff is also sensitive to barriers that may keep a person from getting help. For example, an adolescent may be more willing to attend a support group meeting in a church or club near home than to travel to a mental health center. An accessible service can handle consumer demand without placing people on a long waiting list.

Alternative Therapy  Publication
An alternative approach to mental health care is one that emphasizes the interrelationship between mind, body, and spirit. Although some alternative approaches have a long history, many remain controversial.

Assertive Community Treatment  link
A multi-disciplinary clinical team approach of providing 24-hour, intensive community services in the individual's natural setting that help individuals with serious mental illness live in the community.

A professional review of child and family needs that is done when services are first sought from a caregiver. The assessment of the child includes a review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, family situation, and behaviour in the community. The assessment identifies the strengths of the child and family. Together, the caregiver and family decide what kind of treatment and supports, if any, are needed.

Behavioral Therapy  
As the name implies, behavioural therapy focuses on behaviour-changing unwanted behaviours through rewards, reinforcements, and desensitization. Desensitization, or Exposure Therapy, is a process of confronting something that arouses anxiety, discomfort, or fear and overcoming the unwanted responses. Behavioural therapy often involves the cooperation of others, especially family and close friends, to reinforce a desired behaviour.

Bipolar Disorder  
Extreme mood swings punctuated by periods of generally even-keeled behaviour characterize this disorder. Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. This disorder typically begins in the mid-twenties and continues throughout life. Without treatment, people who have bipolar disorder often go through devastating life events such as marital breakups, job loss, substance abuse, and suicide.

Borderline Personality Disorder 
Symptoms of borderline personality disorder, a serious mental illness, include pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behaviour. The instability can affect family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity.

A person who has special training to help people with mental health problems. Examples include social workers, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mentors

Case Manager 
An individual who organizes and coordinates services and supports for children with mental health problems and their families. (Alternate terms: service coordinator, advocate, and facilitator.)

Case Management  
A service that helps people arrange for appropriate services and supports. A case manager coordinates mental health, social work, educational, health, vocational, transportation, advocacy, respite care, and recreational services, as needed. The case manager makes sure that the changing needs of the child and family are met. (This definition does not apply to managed care.) Managed care definition: A system requiring that a single individual in the provider organization is responsible for arranging and approving all devices needed under the contract embraced by employers, mental health authorities, and insurance companies to ensure that individuals receive appropriate, reasonable health care services.

Cognitive Therapy  
Cognitive therapy aims to identify and correct distorted thinking patterns that can lead to feelings and behaviours that may be troublesome, self-defeating, or even self-destructive. The goal is to replace such thinking with a more balanced view that, in turn, leads to more fulfilling and productive behaviour.

Cognitive/Behavioural Therapy  
A combination of cognitive and behavioural therapies, this approach helps people change negative thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviours so they can manage symptoms and enjoy more productive, less stressful lives.

Community Services Publication
Services that are provided in a community setting. Community services refer to all services not provided in an inpatient setting.

Any individual who does or could receive health care or services. Includes other more specialized terms, such as beneficiary, client, customer, eligible member, recipient, or patient.

Consumer Run Services  

Mental health treatment or support services that are provided by current or former mental health consumers. Includes social clubs, peer-support groups, and other peer-organized or consumer-run activities.

Continuum of care  
A term that implies a rogression of services that a child moves through, usually one service at a time. More recently, it has come to mean comprehensive services.

Coordinated services 
Child-serving organizations talk with the family and agree upon a plan of care that meets the child's needs. These organizations can include mental health, education, juvenile justice, and child welfare. Case management is necessary to coordinate services.

Couples Counselling and Family Therapy  
These two similar approaches to therapy involve discussions and problem-solving sessions facilitated by a therapist-sometimes with the couple or entire family group, sometimes with individuals. Such therapy can help couples and family members improve their understanding of, and the way they respond to, one another. This type of therapy can resolve patterns of behaviour that might lead to more severe mental illness. Family therapy can help educate the individuals about the nature of mental disorders and teach them skills to cope better with the effects of having a family member with a mental illness-such as how to deal with feelings of anger or guilt.

Cultural competence  
Help that is sensitive and responsive to cultural differences. Caregivers are aware of the impact of culture and possess skills to help provide services that respond appropriately to a person's unique cultural differences, including race and ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disability. They also adapt their skills to fit a family's values and customs.

DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition)  
An official manual of mental health problems developed by the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other health and mental health care providers use this reference book to understand and diagnose mental health problems. Insurance companies and health care providers also use the terms and explanations in this book when discussing mental health problems.

Day treatment
Day treatment includes special education, counselling, parent training, vocational training, skill building, crisis intervention, and recreational therapy. It lasts at least 4 hours a day. Day treatment programs work in conjunction with mental health, recreation, and education organizations and may even be provided by them.

Delusions are bizarre thoughts that have no basis in reality.

Dementia is a problem in the brain that makes it hard for a person to remember, learn and communicate; eventually is becomes difficult for a person to take care of himself or herself. This disorder can also affect a person's mood and personality.

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of sadness that persist beyond a few weeks. Two neurotransmitters-natural substances that allow brain cells to communicate with one another-are implicated in depression: serotonin and norepinephrine.

Diagnostic Evaluation  Publication
The aims of a general psychiatric evaluation are 1) to establish a psychiatric diagnosis, 2) to collect data sufficient to permit a case formulation, and 3) to develop an initial treatment plan, with particular consideration of any immediate interventions that may be needed to ensure the patient's safety, or, if the evaluation is a reassessment of a patient in long-term treatment, to revise the plan of treatment in accord with new perspectives gained from the evaluation.

A discharge is the formal termination of service, generally when treatment has been completed or through administrative authority.

Drop-in Center  
A social club offering peer support and flexible schedule of activities: may operate on evenings and/ weekends.

Dually Diagnosed  
A person who has both an alcohol or drug problem and an emotional/psychiatric problem is said to have a dual diagnosis.

Early intervention  
A process used to recognize warning signs for mental health problems and to take early action against factors that put individuals at risk. Early intervention can help children get better in less time and can prevent problems from becoming worse.

Electroconvulsive Therapy  
Also known as ECT, this highly controversial technique uses low voltage electrical stimulation of the brain to treat some forms of major depression, acute mania, and some forms of schizophrenia. This potentially life-saving technique is considered only when other therapies have failed, when a person is seriously medically ill and/or unable to take medication, or when a person is very likely to commit suicide. Substantial improvements in the equipment, dosing guidelines, and anesthesia have significantly reduced the possibility of side effects.

A planned program to provide psychiatric care in emergency situations with staff specifically assigned for this purpose. Includes crisis intervention, which enables the individual, family members and friends to cope with the emergency while maintaining the individual's status as a functioning community member to the greatest extent possible.

Emergency and crisis services  
A group of services that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help during a mental health emergency. Examples include telephone crisis hotlines, suicide hotlines, crisis counselling, crisis residential treatment services, crisis outreach teams, and crisis respite care.

Family support services  
Help designed to keep the family together, while coping with mental health problems that affect them. These services may include consumer information workshops, in-home supports, family therapy, parenting training, crisis services, and respite care.

Hallucinations are experiences of sensations that have no source. Some examples of hallucinations include hearing nonexistent voices, seeing nonexistent things, and experiencing burning or pain sensations with no physical cause.

Housing Services  
Assistance to clients/patients in finding and maintaining appropriate housing arrangements.

Independent living services 
Support for a young person living on his or her own. These services include therapeutic group homes, supervised apartment living, and job placement. Services teach youth how to handle financial, medical, housing, transportation, and other daily living needs, as well as how to get along with others.

Intake/ Screening
Services designed to briefly assess the type and degree of a client's/patient's mental health condition to determine whether services are needed and to link him/her to the most appropriate and available service. Services may include interviews, psychological testing, physical examinations including speech/hearing, and laboratory studies.

Intensive case management  
Intensive community services for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness that are designed to improve planning for their service needs. Services include outreach, evaluation, and support.

Intensive Residential Services  
Intensively staffed housing arrangements for clients/patients. May include medical, psychosocial, vocational, recreational or other support services.

Mental health  
How a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life's situations. Mental health is how people look at themselves, their lives, and the other people in their lives; evaluate their challenges and problems; and explore choices. This includes handling stress, relating to other people, and making decisions.

Mental health problems  
Mental health problems are real. They affect one's thoughts, body, feelings, and behaviour. Mental health problems are not just a passing phase. They can be severe, seriously interfere with a person's life, and even cause a person to become disabled. Mental health problems include depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and conduct disorder.

Mental disorders  
Another term used for mental health problems.

Mental illnesses  
This term is usually used to refer to severe mental health problems in adults.

New Generation Medications  
Anti-psychotic medications which are new and atypical.

Non-Institutional Services
A facility that provides mental health services, but not on a residential basis, other than an inpatient facility or nursing home.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a chronic, relapsing illness. People who have it suffer from recurrent and unwanted thoughts or rituals. The obsessions and the need to perform rituals can take over a person's life if left untreated. They feel they cannot control these thoughts or rituals.

The results of a specific health care service or benefit package.

Outcomes measure
A tool to assess the impact of health services in terms of improved quality and/or longevity of life and functioning.

Panic Disorders  
People with panic disorder experience heart-pounding terror that strikes suddenly and without warning. Since they cannot predict when a panic attack will seize them, many people live in persistent worry that another one could overcome them at any moment.

Paranoia and Paranoid Disorders  
Symptoms of paranoia include feelings of persecution and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. The disorder is present in many mental disorders and it is rare as an isolated mental illness. A person with paranoia can usually work and function in everyday life since the delusions involve only one area. However, their lives can be isolated and limited.

Pastoral Counselling  
Pastoral counselors are counsellors working within traditional faith communities to incorporate psychotherapy, and/or medication, with prayer and spirituality to effectively help some people with mental disorders. Some people prefer to seek help for mental health problems from their pastor, rabbi, or priest, rather than from therapists who are not affiliated with a religious community.

Phobias are irrational fears that lead people to altogether avoid specific things or situations that trigger intense anxiety. Phobias occur in several forms, for example, agoraphobia is the fear of being in any situation that might trigger a panic attack and from which escape might be difficult; social phobia is a fear of being extremely embarrassed in front of other people.

Plan of care
A treatment plan especially designed for each child and family, based on individual strengths and needs. The caregiver(s) develop(s) the plan with input from the family. The plan establishes goals and details appropriate treatment and services to meet the special needs of the child and family.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops as a result of witnessing or experiencing a traumatic occurrence, especially life threatening events. PTSD can cause can interfere with a person's ability to hold a job or to develop intimate relationships with others.

Practice guidelines
Systematically developed statements to standardize care and to assist in practitioner and patient decisions about the appropriate health care for specific circumstances. Practice guidelines are usually developed through a process that combines scientific evidence of effectiveness with expert opinion. Practice guidelines are also referred to as clinical criteria, protocols, algorithms, review criteria, and guidelines.

A psychiatrist is a professional who completed both medical school and training in psychiatry and is a specialist in diagnosing and treating mental illness.

Psychoanalysis  Publication
Psychoanalysis focuses on past conflicts as the underpinnings to current emotional and behavioural problems. In this long-term and intensive therapy, an individual meets with a psychoanalyst three to five times a week, using "free association" to explore unconscious motivations and earlier, unproductive patterns of resolving issues.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation  Publication
Therapeutic activities or interventions provided individually or in groups that may include development and maintenance of daily and community-living skills, self-care, skills training includes grooming, bodily care, feeding, social skills training, and development of basic language skills.

Residential Services
Services provided over a 24-hour period or any portion of the day which a patient resided, on an on-going basis, in a State facility or other facility and received treatment.

Residential treatment centers
Facilities that provide treatment 24 hours a day and can usually serve more than 12 young people at a time. Children with serious emotional disturbances receive constant supervision and care. Treatment may include individual, group, and family therapy; behaviour therapy; special education; recreation therapy; and medical services. Residential treatment is usually more long-term than inpatient hospitalization. Centers are also known as therapeutic group homes.

Respite Residential Services  
Provision of periodic relief to the usual family members and friends who care for the clients/patients.

Respite care  
A service that provides a break for parents who have a child with a serious emotional disturbance. Trained parents or counsellors take care of the child for a brief period of time to give families relief from the strain of caring for the child. This type of care can be provided in the home or in another location. Some parents may need this help every week.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by "positive" and "negative" symptoms. Psychotic, or positive, symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking (apparent from a person's fragmented, disconnected and sometimes nonsensical speech). Negative symptoms include social withdrawal, extreme apathy, diminished motivation, and blunted emotional expression.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)  
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that appears related to fluctuations in the exposure to natural light. It usually strikes during autumn and often continues through the winter when natural light is reduced. Researchers have found that people who have SAD can be helped with the symptoms of their illness if they spend blocks of time bathed in light from a special full-spectrum light source, called a "light box."

Self-help generally refers to groups or meetings that: involve people who have similar needs; are facilitated by a consumer, survivor, or other layperson; assist people to deal with a "life-disrupting" event, such as a death, abuse, serious accident, addiction, or diagnosis of a physical, emotional, or mental disability, for oneself or a relative; are operated on an informal, free-of-charge, and nonprofit basis; provide support and education; and are voluntary, anonymous, and confidential. Many people with mental illnesses find that self-help groups are an invaluable resource for recovery and for empowerment.

Serious emotional disturbances  
Diagnosable disorders in children and adolescents that severely disrupt their daily functioning in the home, school, or community. Serious emotional disturbances affect one in 10 young people. These disorders include depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, and eating disorders. Pursuant to section 1912(c) of the Public Health Service Act "children with a serious emotional disturbance" are persons: (1) from birth up to age 18 and (2) who currently have, or at any time during the last year, had a diagnosable mental, behavioural, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within DSM-III-R. Federal Register Volume 58 No. 96 published Thursday May 20, 1993 pages 29422 through 29425.

Service  link
A type of support or clinical intervention designed to address the specific mental health needs of a child and his or her family. A service could be provided only one time or repeated over a course of time, as determined by the child, family, and service provider.

Supported Housing  
Services to assist individuals in finding and maintaining appropriate housing arrangements.

Supportive Residential Services  
Moderately staffed housing arrangements for clients/patients. Includes supervised apartments, satellite facilities, group homes, halfway houses, mental health shelter-care facilities, and other facilities.

System of Care  
A system of care is a method of addressing children's mental health needs. It is developed on the premise that the mental health needs of children, adolescents, and their families can be met within their home, school, and community environments. These systems are also developed around the principles of being child-centered, family-driven, strength-based, and culturally competent and involving interagency collaboration.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services  Publication
Services that include job finding/development, assessment and enhancement of work-related skills, attitudes, and behaviours as well as provision of job experience to clients/patients. Includes transitional employment.

Wraparound Services  
A unique set of community services and natural supports for a child/adolescent with serious emotional disturbances based on a definable planning process, individualized for the child and family to achieve a positive set of outcomes.

Advocacy: a combination of individual and social actions designed to raise awareness and to gain political commitment, policy support, social acceptance and health systems support for mental health goals.

Promotion: a process of enabling people to increase control over the determinants of their mental well being and to improve it.

Prevention: all organized activities in the community to prevent the occurrence as well as the progression of mental disorders, including the timely application of means to promote the mental well-being of individuals and of the community as a whole, and the provision of information and education.

Treatment: relevant clinical and non-clinical care aimed at reducing the impact of mental disorders and improving the quality of life of patients.

Rehabilitation: care given to persons with mental disorders in the form of knowledge and  skills to help them achieve their optimum level of social and psychological functioning.

Commitment : A determination by a judge or court commissioner, made after an involuntary commitment hearing, that the minor is in need of inpatient diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment or that the minor is in need of less restrictive alternative treatment, and the minor is unwilling to consent to such care voluntarily.

Consent : Agreement to receive treatment following the act of informing the patient about the nature and character of proposed treatment, anticipated results of treatment and alternative forms of treatment.

Family Support : Family support groups and advocacy to families in which there is a seriously disturbed child or adolescent or an adult with severe and persistent mental illness.

Likelihood of Serious Harm : Either: (a) A substantial risk that physical harm will be inflicted by an individual upon his or her own person, as evidenced by threats or attempts to commit suicide or inflict physical harm on oneself; (b) a substantial risk that physical harm will be inflicted by an individual upon another, as evidenced by behaviour which has caused such harm or which places another person or persons in reasonable fear of sustaining such harm; or (c) a substantial risk that physical harm will be inflicted by an individual upon the property of others, as evidenced by behaviour which has caused substantial loss or damage to the property of others.

Mental Health Care Provider (MHCP) - The individual with primary responsibility for implementing an individualized plan for mental health rehabilitation services.

Psychoeducation : A core set of characteristics of effective psychoeducation programs that teach and explore the provision of emotional support, education, reducing stressors, resources during periods of crisis, and problem-solving skills to consumers and their family members.

Recovery is variously called a process, an outlook, a vision, a guiding principle. There is neither a single agreed-upon definition of recovery nor a single way to measure it. But the overarching message is that hope and restoration of a meaningful life are possible, despite serious mental illness (Deegan, 1988; Anthony, 1993; Stocks, 1995; Spaniol et al., 1997). Instead of focusing primarily on symptom relief, as the medical model dictates, recovery casts a much wider spotlight on restoration of self-esteem and identity and on attaining meaningful roles in society . . . a person with mental illness can recover even though the illness is not “cured” . . . . [Recovery] is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with the limitations caused by illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness (Anthony, 1993).

Schizoaffective Disorder is diagnosed when symptoms of schizophrenia (hallucinations, delusions, catatonia, disorganized speech, flattening of facial affect, etc.) co-occur (happen at the same time) with all necessary symptoms of a manic, depressive or mixed episode sufficient for the diagnosis of Bipolar or Major Depression.


Empowerment is the belief that one has power and control in their life, including their illness. Empowerment also involves taking responsibility for self and advocating for self and others. As consumers grow in their recovery journeys, they gain a greater sense of empowerment in their lives.


Support from peers, family, friends and mental health professionals is essential to recovery from mental illness. It is especially beneficial to have multiple sources of support. This not only reduces a consumer’s sense of isolation, but also increases their activity in the community, allowing them to obtain an integral role in society.

In addition to support from individuals, participation in support groups is an important tool for recovery. Consumers frequently report that being able to interact with others who understand their feelings and experiences is the most important ingredient for their recovery.

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