CAMHS Glossary

Below is a list of words that are commonly used in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Adolescent Inpatient Unit

A place in a hospital for young people (12-18 years old) with serious mental health problems. Young people will usually live in the unit and take part in lots of different activities which are designed to help them understand their mental health problems and find better ways of coping with them.

There is also a team of mental health specialists at the unit who work with young people to help them to feel better.

Advocate – Also see Independent Mental Health Advocate

An Advocate is someone who can offer independent support in speaking about what help you want.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder where people more or less stop eating altogether. This is usually because they feel they are too fat, even if they appear very thin to others. 


Anxiety can make you feel worried, frightened, irritable and fidgety. It can also make you feel sick, give you a stomach-ache and make you want to go to the loo a lot. Everyone feels anxious sometime, but some people have anxiety difficulties, which means that they feel very worried  about things for a lot of the time. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

People with ADHD find it very difficult to sit still, to concentrate on things and/or to think before they act. 

Binge Eating

This is a type of eating disorder where people eat a lot, but don’t get rid of it afterwards.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder where people will sometimes eat a lot of food at once, but then are sick or take laxatives to get rid of it. 

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

These are services that are available in every local area to help children and young people who have mental health difficulties. These services can help their families too. Mental health specialists work in teams in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to make sure that each person gets all the help they need.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Learning and practising new ways of thinking and behaving that will make life easier for you and others.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is very bad behaviour that has been going on for some time. It is much more serious than being a bit naughty, and can end up with people getting in trouble with the police.


Any information you give to your doctor or the person looking after you should be kept private, unless there are concerns about your safety, and they should tell you if they are going to share your information with anyone else.


Everyone feels sad sometimes but people with depression feel very sad for a long period of time and can see no way forward.


This is when your doctor asks you and your family about your difficulties. This might include question about how long you have had the difficulties, how bad they are, and how they are affecting your life.


Your diet is what you eat. Sometimes changing what you eat can help change how you feel.

Electro Convulsive Therapy  (ECT)

This involves a small electric current being passed through your brain.  It is very rarely used on children and young people.

Group Therapy

Talking about things in a group on a regular basis with other people who are having difficulties.

Medicine/ Medication

Taking medicine as a pill or as a liquid to help you think, feel or behave differently. For more information about particular medicines, visit netdoctor. 

Mental Disorders

These are serious mental health problems that people can sometimes have for a long time. Children and young people with mental disorders can sometimes feel very upset and can find life very difficult. They often get help from mental health specialists or might take medication.

Mental Health

How ready and able you are to develop and learn and grow up with enjoyment and confidence.

Mental Health Act 2007

What the law says about going into a psychiatric hospital against your will, and your rights. See the Headspace Toolkit for more information.

Mental Health Problems

These are any feelings you have that get ‘too much’ so that they that get in the way of you leading your life. They can be many different kinds of feelings such as anger, feeling scared or sad. Some people sometimes also use the words ‘emotional and behavioural problems’ to describe mental health problems.

Mental Health Specialists

These are people who are specially trained to understand and help people with mental health problems such as psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, psychotherapists, art therapists, play therapists and counsellors.

Mental Illness

People with a mental illness have a mental disorder that causes extreme upset, confusion and difficulty in their life every day. They often will find it hard to know what is real and what is imaginary. They will get help from mental health specialists and may take medication.

Modified Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

This  type of psychological treatment helps people find ways to cope with intense and painful emotions.

Paediatric Ward & Adolescent Paediatric Ward

This means a hospital ward or unit that is for children, or teenagers.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

This is a service you can go to if you want information or you want to make a complaint about the National Health Service (NHS).

Parent Training

Help and practical advice for parents and carers on how to change their own and their child’s behaviour.


Being sectioned means being taken into a psychiatric hospital against your will.  See the Headspace toolkit for more information.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)

 Type of antidepressant medication, used for difficulties such as depression.

Self Harm

Self Harm is a way that some people deal with very difficult feelings that build up inside them. People deal with these feelings in different ways. For instance cutting or burning themselves. 


This is when people are given a label which affects the way others treat them or how they feel about themselves e.g. when a young person is called ‘crazy’ because they are attending Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.


People usually feel stressed when they are under a lot of pressure, for example during exams. Feeling stressed can sometimes be a good thing but if people feel stressed a lot they may feel scared, anxious or depressed.

Treatment Plan or Care Plan

This is a plan agreed by you, your family and your doctor or the person working with you. It should look at what your needs are, and what is going to happen to meet those needs and help you.