Understanding acronyms, jargon, care clusters and support service locations

For someone who has never worked within the NHS, or within a mental health setting before, it can be very useful to quickly become familiar with certain acronyms, jargon, care clusters and support service locations in order to keep up with ‘clinical’ talk, reading through notes and preparing for the comings and goings of the people that use your services.
The following pages list commonly used acronyms, jargon, all care clusters, and common support service sites. There is also space for you to add anymore you come across. 



Admin (Administration team)

They are the glue that hold the NHS together, they know the ins and outs of the system. 

AMH (Adult Mental Health)

AMH is sometimes called secondary care, which means that it is specialised and usually only available to people who are referred by a GP or other health/social care professionals.

AMHP (Approved Mental Health Practitioner)

APPROVED MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER - AMHPs are mental health professionals who have been approved by a local social services authority to carry out certain duties under the Mental Health Act. They might be social workers, nurses, occupational therapists etc.

AO (Assertive Outreach)

Assertive Outreach Teams are part of secondary mental health services and are usually attached to the Local Mental Health Teams (LMHT – see below). They work with people who are 18 to 65 years old who have particularly complex needs and need more intensive support to work with services.

ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe a number of difficulties and behaviours which affect the way in which a group of people understand and react to the world around them.


BFT (Behavioural Family Therapy)

BFT is an evidence based, effective and practical skills based approach in which the service user, mental health worker and the family work collaboratively together.


CQC (Care Quality Commission)

The role of the CQC (Care Quality Commission) as an independent regulator is to register health and adult social care service providers in England and to check, through inspection and ongoing monitoring, that standards are being met.

CAT (Change Agent Team)

The Health and Social Care Change Agent Team (CAT) was set up in 2002 to assist health and social care communities tackle the problem of people remaining in hospitals longer than necessary.

CAT (Cognitive Analytic Therapy)

Cognitive Analytic Therapy is a focussed, time-limited psychological therapy designed for people using NHS services who are suffering from a wide range of mental health difficulties.

CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)

CAMHS are the NHS services that assess and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a talking therapy that can help people to manage their difficulties by changing the way they think and behave. It's most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression.

CCO (Care Co-Ordinator)

The care coordinator acts as a contact for the person and helps to develop a care plan with them. They work in the community with other services to address the person's social care, housing, physical and mental health needs, as well as substance use, and provide any other support the person may need.

CTO (Community Treatment Order)

An order made by a responsible clinician to enforce supervised treatment for people in the community. It means that a person can return to hospital and be given immediate treatment if necessary if they break the agreements of the order. Conditions are added to the CTO which have to be followed for example, having to live in a certain place or going to appointments for treatment.

CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse)

A specialist nurse who works within a local community to assess needs as well as plan and evaluate programmes of care.

CPA (Care programme approach)

Care programme approach (CPA) is an approach that is used in specialist mental health services to assess needs and then plan, implement and evaluate the care that service users receive.

CSW (Community Support Worker)

The Community Support Worker (CSW) will be responsible for assisting qualified staff in the provision of physical and psychological care to patients.

CRHT (Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment)

A team of experienced mental health staff which includes nursing, psychology, social care, pharmacy and psychiatric staff. They can provide assessment, and short-term intensive community support, for people if they’re are experiencing a mental health crisis.



This refers to an injection of slow release medication a person is given monthly, instead of taking a daily dose, usually as a response to a diagnosis of psychosis.

DSH (Deliberate Self-Harm)

This is a not very strengths-based way of describing a persons’ attempts to cope through self-injury.

Dual diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe co-existing mental health and alcohol and drug use difficulties.


EIP (Early Intervention in Psychosis)

They offer a specialist service working with young people between the ages of 18 - 35 with first onset psychosis.


H/V (Home Visit)

You might see this on a whereabouts board, or written in notes, but people don’t normally use it in conversation. A home visit is just a visit by a member of staff to a client’s home.

HCA (Health Care Assistant)

Assists qualified staff with the assessment and implementation of individual patient care plans and undertakes routine tasks and activities as directed to facilitate the wellbeing, dignity and treatment of people that use services.


ICATT (Intensive Community Assessment and Treatment Team)

ICATT provides specialist services to adults with intellectual disabilities and/or neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder.


MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub)

MASH is a partnership between Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottinghamshire NHS health services, Nottinghamshire Police and the Probation Service who work together to safeguard children, young people and vulnerable adults.

MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Teams)

A group of professionals, from one or more clinical disciplines, who work together to make decisions regarding the recommended treatment of individuals.


NVR (Non-Violent Resistance)

A concept that draws inspiration from those who have sought to bring about changes in society in a non-violent manner. One of the guiding principles is "connection before correction"


OP (Outpatients)

An outpatient department or outpatient clinic is the part of a hospital designed for the treatment of outpatients, people with health problems who visit the hospital for diagnosis or treatment, but do not at this time require a bed or to be admitted for overnight care.

OT (Occupational Therapists)

Occupational Therapists are health care professionals who utilize evidence-based practice, research, scientific evidence, and a holistic perspective to promote independence, meaningful occupations, and patients' functional ability to fulfil their daily routines and roles.



Perinatal is the period of time when one becomes pregnant and up to a year after giving birth. Perinatal services support women and their families throughout this time.

PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit)

Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICU) are specialist wards that provide inpatient mental health care, assessment and comprehensive treatment to individuals who are experiencing the most serious mental health difficulties.

PRN (Pro-Re Nata )

PRN medication is that which is not required by a person on a regular basis. It is usually prescribed to treat short term or intermittent medical conditions.


RAM (Red Amber Meeting)

This is a daily meeting that takes place in some teams to talk about the people under the teams caseload who are deemed to be the highest risk. In some teams, people are categorised into ‘red’ ‘amber’ and ‘green’ categories depending on the level of risk they are deemed to carry. The red amber meeting discussed the people in the red and amber categories.


RiO is an electronic patient records system where notes are made about the interactions one has with people who use services. It helps one improve outcomes by providing a holistic picture of people who use services.


SCM (Structured Clinical Management)

A relatively new approach to working with people who have been given a diagnosis of personality disorder. There is an emphasis on problem-solving, effective crisis planning, medication review and assertive follow-up if appointments are missed.

SPA (Single Point of Access)

A SPA describes an access process where all services share a single set of contact information (telephone number, web address etc).


TMVA (Therapeutic Management of Violence and Aggression)

TMVA training supports staff to manage all levels of challenging behaviour, with the emphasis on de-escalation and safety throughout. The overriding message is that physical intervention should only ever be used as a last resort.



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