Mental Health Terms

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There are currently 189 names in this directory
Acculturation problem

Problem involving adjustment to a different culture (eg. following migration).


Recent onset of severe clinical symptoms of mental illness.

Acute inpatient service

A service that provides assessment and short-term intensive treatment, as a part of the continuum of care, for people experiencing acute episodes of mental illness who cannot be treated more appropriately in other community settings.


A state of dependence produced by the habitual taking of drugs, including alcohol, characterised by compulsion, loss of control and continued patterns of use despite negative consequences.

Adjustment disorder

Development of clinically significant emotional or behavioural symptoms in response to a psychological stressor such as family bereavement or break up of relationship.


Period of growth and development from puberty to maturity.


Stage of growth and development that follows adolescence.


Person who intercedes for and acts on behalf of a client when the client is unable to do so, and may be a professional or lay person.

Against medical advice (AMA)

Departure from inpatient psychiatric treatment that is initiated by a voluntaryclient, against the recommendation of the care givers.

Age-related cognitive decline

A decline in cognitive functioning, including memory and reasoning, as a result of the aging process.


Physical or verbal behaviour that is forceful or hostile and enacted to intimidate others.


Fear and anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape may be difficult (or embarrassing), or in which help may not be available in the event of having a panic attack. Fear of the outdoors or going out, especially alone. It is the most common phobia.

Alzheimer’s Disease

A disease characterised by confusion, memory failure, disorientation, restlessness, speech disturbances, and an inability to carry out purposeful movements. The disease usually begins in later middle life with slight defects in memory and behaviour and occurs with equal frequency in men and women. The only treatment is palliative care.


A prescribed drug that has a marked stimulant action on the central nervous system. It produces a feeling of mental alertness and well being. Tolerance to amphetamine develops rapidly and prolonged use may lead to dependence.

Amphetamine Use Disorder

Presence of inappropriate behaviour or physiological changes that develop during, or shortly after, use of amphetamines or related substances.

Anorexia Nervosa

Eating disorder in which the person starves him/herself or uses other techniques such as vomiting, to induce weight loss. It is motivated by a false perception of being fat and/or phobia about becoming fat. It can be life threatening.

Anxiety Disorder

A form of neurosis in which anxiety dominates the person’s life. Examples are Acute Stress Disorder, Agoraphobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Attack, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobia, Substance-induced Anxiety Disorder.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder

A disorder with a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity.


The right of designated people to make decisions and issue commands.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

The essential feature of Avoidant Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.

Behavioural therapy

Treatment based on the belief that psychological problems are the products of faulty learning and not the symptoms of an underlying disease. Treatment is directed at the problem or target behaviour and is designed for the particular person, not for the particular diagnostic label that has been given.


A reaction to the death of a loved one (eg. feelings of sadness and associated symptoms such as insomnia, poor appetite and weight loss).

Bipolar Affective Disorder

A severe mental illness with repeated episodes of mania and depression. The person is usually well in the intervals between episodes.

Brief psychotic disorder

A disturbance that involves the sudden onset of at least one of the following positive psychotic symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganised speech, etc.

Bulimia Nervosa

An eating disorder characterised by overeating followed by techniques to prevent weight gain, eg. induced vomiting, use of laxatives. Can occur as a phase of Anorexia Nervosa.

Case management/Case co-ordination

The mechanism for ensuring continuity of care across inpatient and community settings, for access to and co-ordination of the range of services necessary to meet the individual and identified needs of a person within and outside the mental health service.

Child or adolescent antisocial behaviour

This category can be used when the focus of clinical attention is antisocial behaviour in a child or adolescent that is not due to a mental disorder.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

A developmental disorder occurring as a result of a brain disease such as Encephalitis in childhood. Symptoms include abnormalities of behaviour, progressing to psychosis.

Chronic mental illness

An illness or disorder which is severe in degree and persistent in duration. The symptoms may be permanent or episodic. There may also be a substantially diminished level of functioning in the primary aspects of daily living.


A recipient of mental health services: may be a person, family, group or community.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

A psychological treatment approach which focuses on enabling the client/patient to adjust the way they think (i.e. their cognition) as well as adjust their behaviour in response to events and stimuli. This therapy recognises that cognition affects behaviour and behaviour affects cognition, therefore therapy must address both. Although cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a recognised therapy within itself many psychological therapies integrate cognitive and behavioural approaches.

Cognitive development

The development of intelligence, conscious thought and reasoning that begins in infancy.

Cognitive Disorder

A disorder where the person shows decreased abilities in memory, problem solving, etc. It is generally associated with a general medical condition but could be a psychological impairment.

Communication disorders

A group of disorders where there are problems in communicating, either through difficulties in receiving language or in speech. Generally these disorders stem from a general medical condition such as a brain injury or stroke, or a developmental problem in children. Examples are: Expressive Language Disorder, Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder, Phonological Disorder, Stuttering and Communication Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.


Group of people with common characteristics, locations or interests.

Community mental health service

Local treatment centre where community treatment is provided.

Community support systems

Resources that are used to bolster the natural support system (including the family) of chronically disabled people living in the community.

Community treatment

The provision of routine treatment and support services in a variety of community settings to people with mental disorders and serious mental health problems. These include clinic based services, outpatient services, domiciliary and other visiting services, and consultation and liaison services to general practitioners, primary health care and private sector providers.


Compulsions are repetitive behaviours (eg. hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (eg. praying, counting, repeating words silently) the goal of which is to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress.


Irresistible impulsive behaviour in which a person feels compelled to carry out certain actions, such as repetitive hand washing based on a fear of contamination.

Conduct Disorder

A repetitive or persistent pattern of aggressive behaviour. It is usually recognised in childhood or adolescence and can lead to an Impulsive Personality Disorder.


Being aware of the existence of one’s own mental state.

Continuity of care

The provision of barrier-free access to the necessary range of health care services and other support agencies, with the level of support and care varying according to individual needs.


Efforts directed towards how to manage stress, conflict and change.


A health professional that helps clients and families evaluate their patterns of problem solving and develop more effective ones.


A turning point that results from a stressful event or a perceived threat to one’s well-being that cannot be readily solved by methods that have been successful in the past.

Culture-bound syndromes

Culture-bound syndromes are generally limited to specific societies or culture areas and are localised, folk, diagnostic categories that frame coherent meanings for certain repetitive, patterned and troubling sets of experiences and observations.

Cyclothymic Disorder

A disorder with marked swings of mood from cheerfulness to depression. These fluctuations are not as severe as those of Bipolar Affective Disorder.


Deterioration in a person’s ability to cope with life stresses, which may lead to the development of symptoms of psychological distress.

Defensive Functioning Scale

A test which is used to assess automatic psychological processes (or coping styles) which protect the person against anxiety and from the awareness of internal or external dangers or stressors.


A disorder of mental processes accompanying organic brain disease. It may include illusions, hallucinations or extreme excitement.

Delirium tremens

Delirium associated with excessive use of alcohol, usually seen as a withdrawal symptom. Features include anxiety, tremors, sweating and vivid and terrifying visual and sensory hallucinations.


Irrational belief that cannot be altered by rational argument. In mental illness it is often a false belief that the person is persecuted by others, or is a victim of physical disease.


A chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes due to organic brain disease. It is marked by short term memory loss, changes in personality, deterioration in personal care, impaired reasoning ability and disorientation.

Dependence on substance

The physical and/or psychological effects produced by the habitual taking of certain drugs, including alcohol, leading to a compulsion to continue to take the drug.

Dependent Personality Disorder

A disorder with a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behaviour and fears of separation. This pattern begins by early adulthood.

Depersonalisation Disorder

A disorder in which the person feels unreal or strangely altered, or that the mind is becoming separated from the body. The person may feel like an automaton or as if he or she is living in a dream or a movie.

Depression (psychiatric diagnosis)

A mental state characterised by excessive sadness. Activity may be agitated and restless or slow and retarded. The person may experience feelings of worthlessness, despair and extreme pessimism. There are usually disruptions to sleep, appetite and concentration.

Depressive episode – major

The essential feature of a major depressive episode is a period of at least two (2) weeks during which there is either depressed mood or the loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. In children and adolescents, the mood may be irritable rather than sad.


A chronic condition that makes a person unable to perform in a usual manner.

Disability support services

A range of service responses which enable the individual to live as independently as possible and be included in the ordinary life of their community.

Disorganised type of Schizophrenia

A disorder with disorganised speech, disorganised behaviour and flat or inappropriate mood. The disorganised speech may be accompanied by silliness and laughter that are not closely related to the content of the speech.


The process whereby thoughts and ideas can be split off from consciousness and may function independently, thus allowing conflicting opinions to be held at the same time about the same object.

Dissociative Fugue

A disorder in which the person leaves home or usual surroundings and wanders aimlessly, with inability to recall some or all of ones past. This is accompanied by confusion about personal identity or even the assumption of a new identity.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder)

The presence of two (2) or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of behaviour. In children, the symptoms cannot be attributed to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play.

Disthimic Disorder

A chronically depressed mood that occurs for most of the day, more days than not, for at least two (2) years. Individuals with Disthimic Disorder describe their mood as sad or ‘down in the dumps’. In children the mood may be irritable rather than depressed and required minimum duration is only one (1) year.

District mental health service

A structure that provides a range of specialist mental health service components delivered by specialist mental health professionals to a geographically defined population.


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders 4th Edition.

Eating disorders

Severe disturbances of eating behaviour in which people starve themselves or use other techniques to induce weight loss. See also: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.


The part of the mind that develops from a person’s experience of the outside world and is most in touch with external realities.

Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT)

A treatment for severe depression and sometimes for Schizophrenia and mania. A convulsion is produced by passing an electric current through the brain.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

A tracing to record electrical discharges in the brain. The pattern of EEG reflects the state of the person’s brain and level of consciousness. EEG is used to detect and locate disease such as tumours and epilepsy.


A sense of extreme well-being and optimism, the absence of pain or stress which might be exaggerated in psychiatric cases.


Exposure of one’s genitals to a stranger.

Expressive Language Disorder

An impairment in expressive language development.

Extended inpatient services

Providing ongoing assessment, long-term treatment and rehabilitation on an inpatient basis, where a severe level of impairment exists. Treatment is focused on prevention of deterioration and reduction in impairment.

Family therapy

Psychotherapeutic treatment of the family as a unit to clarify and modify the ways they relate together and communicate.


Sexual attraction to an inappropriate object (known as a ‘fetish’). It may be part of the body, clothing, eg. women’s underpants, bras, stockings, shoes, boots or other objects such a leather handbags, rubber sheets.

Flashbacks (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder)

A vivid involuntary reliving of the experiences during episodes of drug intoxication. The person must have had no recent hallucinogen intoxication and must show no current drug toxicity.

Foster care

Type of living arrangement by which clients are placed with selected families.


Touching and rubbing against a non-consenting person as a means of sexual pleasure. The behaviour usually occurs in crowded places from which the individual can more easily escape arrest.

Functional overlay

A psychological condition which has caused or aggravated the physical symptoms.

Gender Identity Disorder

A strong and persistent gender identification, which is desire to be, or the insistence that one is, of the other sex.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

A disorder with excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for a period of at least six (6) months about a number of events or activities.

Global Assessment of Relational Functioning (GARF) Scale

An assessment scale which can be used to indicate an overall judgment of the functioning of a family or other ongoing relationship on a hypothetical continuum ranging from competent relational functioning to a disrupted, dysfunctional relationship.


False sensory perception of something that is not really there. It may involve, vision, touch, taste or smell.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

A disorder with pervasive and excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behaviour. This pattern begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.

HIV disease, Dementia due to

A dementia that is judged to be the direct consequence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) disease.

Huntington’s Disease

A disease with involuntary jerky movements particularly affecting the shoulders, hips and face, and accompanied by a progressive dementia.


Excessive sleepiness for at least one (1) month as evidenced prolonged sleep episodes or by daytime sleep episodes occurring almost daily.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

A deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity which is causing marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.


Preoccupation with fears of having, or the idea that one has a serious disease based on a misinterpretation of one or more bodily signs or symptoms.

Hypomanic episode

A distinct period during which there is a mild degree of mania or elevated mood that lasts at least four (4) days. This period must be accompanied by at least three (3) symptoms: decreased need for sleep, rapid and animated speech, flight of ideas, etc.


A neurosis, with emotional instability, repression, dissociation and physical symptoms such as paralysis. This is not the same as malingering and it should not be confused with psychopathic conditions.


The awareness of being a person separate and distinct from all others.


A false perception due to misinterpretation of stimuli. For example, a person may misinterpret the conversation of others as the voices of enemies conspiring to destroy him or her.


A degree of mental illness such that the affected person is not responsible for his/her actions or is not capable of entering into a legal contract. This term is used in legal rather than medical contexts.


A term which relates to the person’s recognition or lack of recognition that he/she has a mental illness.


Syndrome occurring to hospitalised clients, characterised by a loss of identity as a person, seeing oneself instead as a patient with total dependence on external sources of reinforcement, pleasure and affirmation. The person loses community living skills and feels uncomfortable in environments other than the institution.


Initial contact by clinical staff with a person referred to a mental health service. It involves the collection of information to assess the appropriateness of referral and enables a person to be directed to the most appropriate service response within or outside the mental health service.


Integration refers to the process whereby a mental health service becomes coordinated as a single specialist network and includes mechanisms which link intake and assessment and continuing treatment and case management to ensure continuity of care.

Intellectual disability

A disability caused by significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning that is accompanied by limitations in functioning in at least two (2) of the following skills areas: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, etc.


A strong impulse to steal items, even though the items are not needed for personal use or for their monetary value.

Korsakoff’s Syndrome (Korsakoff’s Psychosis)

An organic disorder affecting the brain that results in a memory defect in which new information fails to be learnt although events from the past are still recalled. The most common cause is alcoholism, especially when this has led to a deficiency of vitamin B1.

Learning Disorder (formerly Academic Skills Disorders)

A disorder where the child/person shows achievement in standardised tests in reading, mathematics or written expression which is substantially below that expected for age, schooling and level of intelligence.

Male Orgasmic Disorder (formerly Inhibited Male Orgasm)

A persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase.


Pretending to be ill, usually in order to avoid work or to gain attention or access to drugs.


A state of mind characterised by excessive cheerfulness and increased activity. The mood is euphoric and changes rapidly to irritability. Thought and speech are rapid to the point of incoherence and behaviour may be overactive, extravagant, overbearing. There may be grandiose delusions.

Manic episode

A distinct period during which there is an abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood. This period of abnormal mood must last at least one (1) week.

Manic-Depressive Psychosis (Bipolar Affective Disorder)

A severe mental illness with repeated episodes of mania and depression. The person is usually well in the intervals between episodes.

Mental health

A dynamic process in which a person’s physical, cognitive, affective, behavioural and social dimensions interact functionally with one another and with the environment.

Mental Health Act

The Act of Parliament governing the care of people with severe mental illness. The Act provides for involuntary admission and treatment of a person who is considered to be a danger to themselves or others.

Mental illness

Physical, cognitive, affective, behavioural and social patterns that interact dysfunctionally with the environment.

Mental status examination

Examination in which the following mental processes are reviewed: appearance and behaviour, thought content, sensorium and intellect, thought processes, emotional tone and insight.

Mixed Affective State

A Mixed Episode is characterised by a period of time (lasting at least one (1) week) in which the criteria are met, both for a Manic Episode and for a Major Depressive Episode, nearly every day. The individual experiences rapidly alternating moods (sadness, irritability, euphoria).

Mobile intensive treatment services

A service that provides long-term case management and assertive outreach to very vulnerable and disabled people living in the community with severe mental illness, enduring disability and complex needs. Without the provision of this service response, the person would be likely to have recurring admission to acute inpatient services.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.


Repeated irresistible tendency to fall asleep in quiet surroundings or when engaged in monotonous activities.


A state of diminished consciousness or complete unconsciousness caused by the use of narcotic drugs which have a depressant effect on the central nervous system.


A set of psychological and physical symptoms, including fatigue, irritability, headache, dizziness, anxiety and intolerance of noise.


A mental illness in which insight is retained but there is a maladaptive way of behaving or thinking that causes suffering. For example, depression, anxiety, phobias or obsessions.

Nicotine-induced Disorder (Nicotine withdrawal)

The presence of a characteristic withdrawal syndrome that develops after the abrupt cessation of, or reduction in, the use of nicotine-containing products such as cigarettes followed by a prolonged period of daily use.

Non-hospital based acute inpatient unit

A facility that provides acute inpatient services located on a non-hospital site.

Non-hospital based extended inpatient unit

A facility that provides extended inpatient services located on a non-hospital campus.


Unspoken rules of conduct or standards of acceptable behaviour in a culture.


A recurrent thought, feeling or action which the person cannot prevent, that is unpleasant and provokes anxiety.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A disorder with persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

A disorder with a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism and mental and interpersonal control at the expense of flexibility, openness and efficiency.

Occupational therapy

A form of therapy in which clients are encouraged to perform useful tasks and develop interests that may either re-establish old skills and knowledge or initiate new ones. The aim is to reach the maximum level of function and independence in all aspects of daily life.

Opioid Use Disorder (Opioid dependence)

Dependence on opioid drugs such as heroin. Most individuals with Opioid Dependence will experience withdrawal on abrupt discontinuation of opioid substances.


Awareness of oneself in time, space and place. Introduction given to staff and clients as they enter the unfamiliar environment of an inpatient unit.

Outcome criteria

Statements of measurable client goals that are expected to be reached as a result of therapeutic interventions.

Outreach services

A service that provides visiting specialist mental health services to people who are unable to access such services close to their own community. It includes regular visits from a mental health service located in a major population area, to rural and remote areas and the establishment of formal mechanisms for clinical consultation and support between visits. This is generally provided to rural and remote areas where there are no local mental health services or those areas with satellite mental health services.

Panic Attack

A sudden, unpredictable, intense episode of anxiety characterised by personality disorganisation, a fear of losing one’s mind, going crazy, being unable to control one’s behaviour, a sense of impending doom, helplessness and being trapped.

Panic Disorder

A disorder with recurrent, unexpected Panic Attacks followed by at least one (1) month of persistent concern about having another Panic Attack, worry about the possible implications or consequences of the Panic Attacks, or significant behavioural change related to the attacks.


An enduring disposition to act and feel in particular ways. These patterns are sometimes described by different dimensions, eg. extroverted, neurotic.

Personality Disorder

A disorder with deeply ingrained and maladaptive patterns of behaviour, persisting through many years, usually commencing in adolescence. The abnormality of the behaviour must be sufficiently severe that it causes suffering, either to the patient or to other people or both.


Unrealistic fear or aversion to a situation or thing. Avoiding the feared situation may severely restrict one’s life and cause much suffering.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A disorder which follows a traumatic event such as major disaster, rape, torture or accidents. Involves re-living the event and withdrawal from the external world.

Primary health care

The first level of contact with the health system (GPs, community health centres, etc.).


The prediction of the probable outcome of an illness over a given period of time.

Psychiatric crisis response and treatment

Provision of ongoing assessment, short-term interventions and treatment in the community for psychiatric crisis resolution. It includes the management of a person in an acute episode of mental illness with access to treatment options in a variety of settings to prevent admission to an acute inpatient unit.


A medical practitioner who has completed formal specialist training in the study of abnormal behaviour from a medical perspective. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication and authorise medical treatment to people suffering from psychiatric conditions. Psychiatrists provide diagnoses and can provide psychotherapy.


A treatment modality based on Freudian constructs, the analysis of the relationship that the client develops with the psychoanalyst.

Psychogeriatric services

A component of the mental health service which targets older people with mental illness who require both specialised mental health and aged care expertise.


A person who has completed six years of training in the science of human behaviour. There are a number of types of psychologists involved in mental health. Clinical psychologists typically have an individual focus based on a medical model and work with clients presenting with psychiatric symptoms. Community psychologists also work in mental health settings but focus on the person in context of their community and culture and don’t utilise a medical model. Counselling psychologists typically deal with non-psychiatric conditions and generally do not utilise a medical model approach. Neuropsychologists focus on the relationship between neurology and psychology.


Refers to the combination of physical and mental ability. The term is used for disorders in which muscular activities are affected by brain disturbance.


A severe disease or disorder of the mind characterised by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality. There is often a lack of insight, although memory and intellect tend to remain intact.


Refers to the mind/body relationship. Usually refers to illnesses which are caused by the interaction of mental and physical factors.


Psychological methods for the treatment of mental disorders and psychological problems, eg. psychoanalysis, family therapy, group therapy.

Psychotropic drugs

Drugs which affect mood, eg. antidepressants, stimulants, tranquillisers.


A disorder where the person repeatedly starts fires. The person may be indifferent to the consequences to life or property caused by the fire, or they may derive satisfaction from the resulting property destruction.


An unconscious defence mechanism where an individual uses a feasible and acceptable reason to explain irrational behaviour, motives or feelings.


A return to more immature level of functioning.


Involuntary admission and treatment under the provisions of the Mental Health Act.

Relational problem, parent – child

This category should be used when the focus of clinical attention is a pattern of interaction between parent and child (eg. impaired communication, overprotection, inadequate discipline).

Relational problem, partner

When the focus of clinical attention is a pattern of interaction between spouse and partners characterised by negative communication (eg. criticism) distorted communication (eg. unrealistic expectations) or non-communication.

Relational problem, sibling

This category should be used when the focus of clinical attention is a pattern of interaction among siblings that is associated with clinically significant impairment in individual or family functioning or the development of symptoms in one or more siblings.

Relationship problems

Relational problems include patterns of interaction between or among members of a unit that are associated with clinically significant impairment in functioning, or symptoms among one or more members of the unit, or impairment in the functioning of the unit itself.

Religious or spiritual problem

This category can be used when the focus of clinical attention is a religious or spiritual problem. Examples include distressing experiences that involve loss or questioning of faith, problems associated with conversions to a new faith, or questioning of spiritual values that may not necessarily be related to an organised church or religious institution.

Satellite mental health service

A service that provides intake and assessment, continuing treatment and case management and consultation and liaison from a small number of mental health professionals based in rural or non-provincial centres. These services are supported clinically and professionally by outreach mental health services from provincial and metropolitan mental health services (from within the district or from another district).

Schizoaffective Disorder

A disorder with an uninterrupted period of illness during which there is a Major Depressive, Manic or Mixed Episode concurrent with symptoms that meet criterion for Schizophrenia.


A severe mental illness characterised by a disintegration of the process of thinking, of contact with reality, and of emotional responsiveness. Delusions and hallucinations (especially of voices) are usual features, and the person may feel that thoughts, sensations and actions are controlled by or shared with others. The person may become socially withdrawn and lose energy. No single cause of the disease is known. There are strong genetic factors in the causation and environmental stress can precipitate illness.

Secure treatment service

Provision of services for people with mental disorders or serious mental health problems who, based on clinical assessment, require treatment in a closed setting to ensure the safety of the person, the staff and the community. Three (3) levels of inpatient secure treatment are provided: acute inpatient secure treatment, extended secure treatment and high security treatment.


The sum total of perceptions, feelings and beliefs about oneself.


A person’s control of decisions that influence his or her life.


The belief in one’s own capacity to perform the actions needed to control events affecting one’s well-being and the ability to successfully execute the appropriate required behaviours.


The evaluative internal image of oneself formed by the interaction of one’s experiences with influential variables in the environment.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Excessive anxiety concerning separation from the home or from those to whom the person is attached.

Sexual masochism

Sexual pleasure derived from the experience of pain and/or humiliation.

Sexual sadism

Sexual excitement from inflicting pain or thinking about inflicting pain or humiliation on other people.

Sleepwalking Disorder (Somnambulism)

Repeated episodes walking about and performing other actions during sleep without later memory of doing so.


Person suffering chronic mental disorder characterised by anti-social behaviour and lack of guilt, and little capacity for forming emotional relationships with others.

Somatization Disorder

A disorder characterised by multiple recurrent changing physical symptoms such as back pain, the absence of physical disorders that could explain them.

Special care suite

A small dedicated self-contained facility located within a rural general hospital setting where short-term specialised treatment for a person experiencing an acute episode of mental illness is provided.

Specialised mental health service

Specifically designed health services for individual assessment, continuing treatment and rehabilitation for people with mental disorders and serious mental health problems. They also provide specialised consultation and liaison services to other agencies and include a component offering expert advice to facilitate rehabilitation and promotion programs.


A sign of disgrace or shame associated with an illness.


Any factor that threatens the health of the body or has an adverse effect on its functioning such as injury, disease or worry. The existence of one form of stress tends to diminish resistance to other forms.

Substance withdrawal

Symptoms associated with abrupt stopping of excessive use of alcohol or drugs. Features may include anxiety, tremors, sweating and vivid and terrifying visual and sensory hallucinations.

Support groups

Groups of people who meet regularly to discuss specific problems that are common to all of them.


Characteristics by which diseases are recognised. The complaints which a patient presents.


Set of symptoms occurring together.


A group of mental health professionals of different disciplines to democratically share expertise and develop a comprehensive therapeutic plan of action for clients. A client may be considered a member of a team.

Tic disorders

A tic is a sudden, rapid, recurrent, non-rhythmic, stereotyped movement or vocalisation. It is experienced as irresistible but can be suppressed for varying lengths of time. All forms of tic may be exacerbated by stress and attenuated during absorbing activities (eg. reading or sewing).


Any injury – either physical or emotional.

Unspecified mental disorder

There are several circumstances in which it may be appropriate to assign this code: (1) for a specific mental disorder not included in the DSM-IV Classification, (2) when none of the available Not Otherwise Specified categories is appropriate, or (3) when it is judged that a non-psychotic mental disorder is present but there is not enough information available to diagnose one of the categories provided in the classification. In some cases, the diagnosis can be changed to a specific disorder after more information is obtained.


Individualised rules by which people live.

Voluntary admission

Admission to a mental health unit for treatment that results from the client making the decision for admission and signing the necessary agreement for inpatient treatment.


Obtaining sexual pleasure by watching other people undressing or having sex.

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