Glossary of Important Terms for Mental Health and Recovery

  • 1370 is a section number in California’s Penal Code that focuses on persons who are deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.  When competence is considered to be restored, the persons may then stand trial and take part in their defense.
  • 5150 is a provision of the California Welfare and Institutions Code that allows persons to be held involuntarily for up to 72 hours (3 days).  This involuntary hold can be activated if a person is likely to harm him or herself or others, or is so gravely disabled that she or he cannot provide for basic needs.  5150 can be followed by 5250, which allows for a hold of up to 14 additional days, and 5350, which allows for the appointment of a conservator.
  • Access Team is a service in Santa Barbara County that conducts screenings for persons requesting public mental health services, and links them with appropriate mental health resources.  The Access Team is part of CARES (Crisis and Recovery Emergency Services) program for the Department of Behavioral Wellness.
  • Adult Protective Services (APS) is the agency that investigates and acts on behalf of dependent adults who are reasonably believed to be abused by persons with influence over them.
  • Adult Residential Facilities are state-licensed homes that offer shelter, food, and care for mental health conditions and to increase functioning to small groups of residents.
  • Advocates speak up for another’s cause, or write or support others in need to resolve situations.
  • Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services (ADMHS) is the former name for what is now the Santa Barbara County’s Department of Behavioral Wellness.  This county department provides case management and psychiatric services for Santa Barbara County residents with mental illnesses who have Medi-Cal insurance or are currently experiencing a crisis.
  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is a case management team in Santa Barbara County characterized by low patient caseloads so that higher levels of care can be provided to the county’s clients deemed most in need of an integrated team approach, with services brought to the clients usually.
  • Assessment is the professional evaluation and review of an individual’s mental health conditions to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.  It may also ascertain eligibility for specific entitlements or mandated programs.
  • At-risk mental state is the condition an individual experiences when he or she is experiencing signs and symptoms that may be precursors for a serious mental illness.  Mental health interventions at this stage may reorganize environmental and other factors sufficiently to avert a diagnosable mental illness.
  • Behavioral healthcare is the continuum of services for individuals at risk of, or suffering from, mental, addictive, or other disorders that manifest with diagnosable behavioral symptoms.
  • Beneficiary is one who receives benefits through Social Security or other organizations.
  • Best practices are effective methods of treatment as established by the most up-to-date body of knowledge from studies in the field.
  • Bio-psycho-social model of care allows people to see behavioral health disorders as resulting from a complex interrelationship between biological, psychological, and social factors – and responding best to treatment that addresses these three dimensions of a person’s being.
  • Board and care homes offer board (housing and food) and care for small groups of residents who need support for living.  Some of these homes have evolved into state-licensed adult residential facilities.
  • Care coordinators ensure that their clients receive all the care needed for health conditions as efficiently and effectively as possible.
  • Caregivers are persons who help people with mental health challenges or other special needs to live independently.
  • CARES (Crisis and Recovery Emergency Services) is a program of Santa Barbara County’s Department of Behavioral Wellness that provides crisis and outreach services for adults with mental health needs.  CARES can link clients to other county services for case management and psychiatric help.
  • Case managers organize and coordinate services and supports for people living with serious mental illness.
  • Certified peer specialists are professionals who achieve a certain designation (described in the certification) for working in the field of mental health or addiction recovery.  These professionals are notable in that they publicly draw on their personal experiences of recovery to assist clients.
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is an international, independent organization that provides accreditation for rehabilitation programs and facilities that meet standards for quality, person-centered services with positive outcomes.
  • Community services and supports refers to services that are offered in clients’ communities and supports (help) that allow clients to be successful in their every-day environments.
  • Community-based organizations are entities that typically receive much support from the community and are accessible to members of the community, to meet needs defined by their missions.
  • Conservatorships are court-assigned relationships where a person is authorized to make decisions on behalf of another person who is deemed unable to make their own decisions.  Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships authorize legal decisions to be made for persons who are gravely disabled for as long as one year, to be renewed through court action as needed.  Probate conservatorships are more limited in scope and may be financial, or limited to a person’s estate, in nature.  These conservatorships may also be renewed.
  • Co-Occurring Conditions/Disorders occur when two or more disorders present in a person simultaneously.  Examples of co-occurring disorders are having a mental illness and a substance use disorder, or a mental illness and a developmental disorder like autism.
  • Crisis Residential Treatment Services offer individuals in the midst of psychiatric crises short-term (i.e., for a few days), round-the-clock help in a nonhospital setting.
  • Cultural competence/multi-culturalism refers to an attribute in healthcare providers that involves the ability to effectively assess clients’ behaviors and beliefs resulting from personal, familial, and community cultures.
  • Day treatment or day use describes treatment or services that do not include residential arrangements.
  • Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) is a State of California agency with local offices to promote independent living and vocational goals for people with disabilities, including physical and mental disabilities.
  • DSM-V is the colloquial name for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, which is the primary manual used by mental health workers to assess, diagnose, and communicate about mental health disorders.
  • Dual diagnosis is a diagnosis that includes two separate health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and substance abuse, or depression and diabetes.  These health conditions can interact with one another, possibly even conflating their impact.
  • Early intervention is a concept that supports providing services and treatment as early as possible during the course of an illness to reduce its impact and return a person to wellness more quickly.
  • Education groups are scheduled meetings providing information about a specific topic to increase awareness and provide practical information.  Group facilitators or leaders may share similar lived experiences as the other participants and often have specialized training or knowledge to benefit the group.  Examples of education groups are symptom management and illness self-management courses, and how-to presentations.
  • Emerging best practices are treatments that show promise but have not yet established a sufficiently documented and solid evidentiary base.
  • Evidence-based programs or practices are backed by significant scientific studies showing their efficacy.  While not every evidence-based practice transfers to other locations with the same results; there is sufficient evidence to indicate consistent positive results.  Because evidence-based programs and practices are standardized, their implementation is guided by rules to make them more uniformly effective.
  • Family-centered services or family support are services that address the impact of one person’s illness on the entire family and help other members in conjunction with the person who is living with the mental illness.  Often, family support focuses on caregivers as they have the most influence over directions of care.
  • First break is the first episode when a person meets diagnostic criteria for a psychotic illness.
  • Home-based services or in-home supports are services provided inside a client’s home to promote success where he or she lives.  The client for home-based services is frequently a child, and the family is included in the service delivery.
  • Housing services help people to find and maintain residences.
  • ICD-10 is the tenth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization.  It contains codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases.
  • IEP (individual educational plan or program) is used in schools to address special needs for students’ success.
  • ILP (individual learning plan) is used to help students chart their learning progress and gauge what is needed to reach their educational goals.
  • IMD (Institute for Mental Disease) is a skilled nursing facility that cares primarily for people with psychiatric diagnoses.  At least 51 percent of patients must have a psychiatric diagnosis for the facility to be classed an IMD.
  • ISP (individualized service plan) is a written plan with goals for service prepared with input from the client and service providers.  Usually, the plan is reviewed and updated yearly.
  • LPS (Lanterman-Petris-Short) conservatorship is a legal arrangement giving one person (the conservator) authority to make decisions on behalf of a person (the conservatee) deemed unable to make such decisions by reason of a serious mental illness.
  • Marriage and family therapists in California are licensed through the Board of Behavioral Sciences to provide counseling focused on improving relationships.
  • Medicaid is a collective term for a joint federal and state program that provides public health insurance for people with low incomes and limited resources.  Each state has its own version of the program.  In California, the program is called Medi-Cal.
  • Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program (see above).  It is the single largest health insurance provider for Californians, and it provides coverage for low-income children and families as well as for others.  Veterans are typically not eligible for Medi-Cal as they receive benefits through the Veterans Administration.  The County of Santa Barbara’s Department of Behavioral Wellness requires that its clients be served through Medi-Cal insurance.
  • Medically Indigent Adults (MIA) is a county program for adults who are uninsured and are not eligible for healthcare coverage but require health services.
  • Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people people ages 65 and older, people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people of all ages with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant).
  • Medi-medi is a term that describes a person who qualifies for and has both Medi-Cal and Medicare health insurance.  This is considered optimal health insurance coverage for public beneficiaries as each insurance can fill in gaps from the other for the most comprehensive coverage available.
  • Mental disorder is a diagnosable illness based on symptoms and signs that significantly interfere with a person’s cognitive, emotional, or social abilities and aren’t better explained by another type of disorder.
  • Mental health (treatment) courts are legal courts that combine judicial supervision with community mental health treatment and other support services in order to reduce criminal activity and improve the quality of life of participants.  Using the courts is voluntary, and the person who is charged with a crime has a serious mental illness.
  • Mental Health Assessment Team (MHAT) is used in Santa Barbara County to assess people undergoing psychiatric emergencies for safety and needed treatment.  The Mental Health Assessment Team is part of Santa Barbara County’s Department of Behavioral Wellness.
  • Mental health is how a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions affect progress through life and relationships with others.
  • Mental Health Matters is a course unique to the Mental Wellness Center and the Southern Santa Barbara County area.  The course is taught to children in schools, with two curriculi for sixth and ninth graders, to introduce concepts of mental health and illness in a factual and age-appropriate fashion.  The course was designed and is taught by the Education Committee of the Mental Wellness Center and is used in 30 schools in the area.
  • Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) became law in California in 2005 and assigns an additional tax for wealthy people – 1 percent on personal income in excess of $1 million.  It funds personnel and other resources to support mental health programs through the counties.
  • Mental healthcare describes care and treatment that focuses on distress related to a person’s feelings, thoughts, or actions.  Not until recently were scientists able to detect the physiologic changes in the brain or body that presage or determine the course of mental illnesses.  For this reason, a segregation of mental versus physical illnesses persists.
  • Mental illness (or disorder) is an illness with symptoms affecting thoughts, perceptions, feelings, or a combination of those domains.
  • Mood disorders are mental disorders in which the predominant impairment is extremity of mood.  Mood disorders include depression and bipolar disorder.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the largest grassroots organization for people and their families experiencing mental illness.  In Santa Barbara County, the Southern Santa Barbara County Chapter of NAMI operates closely with the Mental Wellness Center to help adults and their families with mental health challenges.
  • Natural supports are help that occurs naturally in the community and is not inserted into a person’s life as part of mental health services.
  • Onset is the first event when an illness may be diagnosed.
  • Patient Rights Advocate is a position required by California law in every county to promote and represent clients’ rights and interests.  This aim is accomplished through direct assistance and the training of mental health staff about the rights of consumers.
  • Peer is a person whose experiences and socio-economic standing puts him or her in the same category as a referenced group.  A mental health recovery peer is a person who has experienced mental illness and recovery.  Peers are used in the mental health workforce as important service providers and are commonly called peer specialists.
  • Peer services are a category of healthcare in which persons with lived experience related to the relevant issues provide support and guidance and model positive behaviors to clients.
  • Physical healthcare describes care and treatment for people for distressing conditions that are not classified as “mental” or “behavioral.”
  • Probate conservatorship is an arrangement appointed by a judge in court in which one person (the conservator) cares for and makes financial and other decisions on behalf of another person (the conservatee) who is deemed unable to make those decisions because of illness.
  • Prodrome/prodromal syndrome is the early period in the course of a disorder when some sign or symptoms of illness are apparent but have not fully manifested.  Criteria for a diagnosis of an illness cannot be met.
  • Program is a cohesive set of services intend to meet specific outcomes for clients.
  • Progress notes are recorded notes maintained by service providers to chart clients’ progress in achieving goals, and experiences with treatment.
  • Promising practice is an intervention that has shown initial success but has not yet established a sufficient base of documented success in treating a condition to be considered an evidence-based practice.
  • Proposition 63 is the ballot measure that led to the Mental Health Services Act becoming enacted as a California state law in 2005.  Proposition 63 proposed that people with incomes in excess of $1 million be taxed an extra 1 percent.  The funds from this measure are used for mental health services and are distributed through California’s counties.
  • Psychiatric health facility (phf or “Puff”) is a 16-bed residential unit that accepts adults involuntarily committed for psychiatric reasons.  The Puff treats adults for psychiatric illnesses but does not provide other medical care ordinarily.
  • Psychosis is the product of a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.  Psychotic features are actions or patterns of thought that reveal the extent of separation from external reality.
  • Recovery is what happens when a person focuses on becoming the best person he or she is capable of being.  Recovery is unique and changes from person to person, depending on individual strengths, interests, and vulnerabilities.
  • Referral describes (a) providing information about an organization or other resource to help a client to meet a specific need or (b) a more formal process of introducing a potential client to a prospective service, often through a written form.
  • Rehabilitation is the set of services designed to return a person to a level of functioning similar to what he or she had before a setback from an illness.
  • Residential treatment centers offer concentrated services, supervision, and residential care for youth and adults living with mental illnesses or substance abuse.
  • Resilience is the capacity of an individual to thrive even when faced with serious negative events or setbacks.
  • Respite services provide breaks for parents or other caregivers who spend significant amounts of time care giving their children, older adults, or adults with severe disabilities.
  • Restorative Policing Program operates in Santa Barbara as a group of officers who work directly with individuals better served through community programs rather than through incarceration and release.  Restorative police officers frequently work with people who have serious mental illness or substance abuse disorders.  The officers are distinguished by their knowledge of community resources and their conceptualization of encounters with nonviolent offenders as potentially treatable.
  • Screening is a short interview used by a mental health professional to identify risks for mental illness or substance abuse.  The screening helps determine follow-up care or it can lead to a more comprehensive review of the client’s health.
  • Serious emotional disturbance (SED) is a diagnosable mental disorder in children and youth that substantially affects daily functioning.
  • Serious mental illness is a mental illness severe enough to impair functioning in one or more important life activities, such as self-care and hygiene, or keeping a job.  Typically, a serious mental illness is long term and may be a chronic health condition.
  • Social workers are often accredited through the Academy of Certified Social Workers (with ACSW after their names) and connect people and services. They do intakes and initial screenings to determine program eligibility and refer individuals and families for needed services.  Frequently, social workers do case management and sometimes, they mediate between clients and service providers.
  • Stabilization is a time in the course of a disorder when the client or patient is no longer deteriorating in health.  Instead, symptoms may hold steady.
  • Stake holder is a person or group of people who are affected by a certain process.
  • State fair hearing is a chance for clients to tell their side of a story when agencies seem to be acting against their interests.  A representative from California’s Fair Hearing Office hears both sides and determines who is right.  A written decision is then prepared and distributed to the parties.
  • Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.  In terms of mental illness, it is the internal and external prejudice associated with people based on psychiatric symptoms and not the content of their characters or their capabilities.
  • Supported employment is the type of employment where accommodations and assistance are used to help individuals be successful in work situations.
  • Support groups are regularly scheduled meetings for people who are dealing with similar, difficult issues.  The emphasis is on sharing the wisdom learned from lived experiences and connecting with one another in a safe, nonjudgmental space.  The group facilitator or leader may also have lived experience with the issues for which the group was formed.  Examples of support groups are family support groups or support for a particular health condition such as bipolar disorder or diabetes.
  • Supported housing is residential service that combines affordability, often through subsidies from governmental programs, with assistance to live successfully.
  • Symptoms are observable changes in a person’s body or behavior that mark health conditions.  They are used to diagnose an illness and may be referred to as an explanation.
  • Telecare is the name of a company contracted by Santa Barbara County’s Department of Behavioral Wellness to provide services and supports to individuals with serious mental illness who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Telecare also operates the crisis residential unit in Santa Maria.
  • Transition-age youth are young people typically between 16 and 26 years of age.  They are so called because they are transitioning – or changing – from childhood to adulthood, with different responsibilities and perspectives.  This is a tumultuous time in many people’s lives and is also associated with major changes in the brain’s structure, which may help to explain why many mental illnesses first appear during this period.
  • Trauma is the response a person experiences when faced with a serious threat to life or sanity or the life or sanity of somebody close.
  • Treatment planning is the strategic determination of service provision for a client.
  • Treatment team is the group of professionals involved in the care of a client and responsible for cohesive collaboration in the client’s best interest.
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is an evidence-based program that teaches clients to manage their health conditions at various points along the spectrum using practical skills from a personalized “toolbox.”
  • Wraparound describes a set of services that are in place, typically in the community and without gaps in care through which a client can fall.