A profession with a unique language

Every profession has a unique language, right? Go into an accounting firm and you will hear them discussing the P&L sheets and asking about ROIs. Head into a school and you’ll hear about 504s and RTIs.

The list goes on. One way to reduce stigma is to shine light on the unknown. So, what are some of the terms in mental health?

Prevention and education: “Prevention” is an umbrella term, relating to targeted education on a specific topic. Examples include teaching kids resiliency and emotional regulation skills; teaching teens about healthy relationships and safe dating practices to reduce dating violence; and age-appropriate drug and alcohol education to reduce likelihood of substance use.

Treatment/intervention/outpatient: These terms are frequently intermixed. In counseling, these terms refer to when someone is in counseling. “Treatment/intervention” can be voluntary or mandated and can be done on weekly, biweekly, or monthly schedules. Counselors, social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists can all provide treatment of different varieties.

Crisis: A crisis call is made when a person is suicidal or homicidal. A trained clinician will respond to a crisis call to assess and decide appropriate levels of care. Sometimes, care means hospitalization for stabilization and sometimes it means developing a safety plan and engaging in ongoing treatment.

Intensive outpatient: This is frequently referred to as “IOP,” and it’s used for people working on drug and alcohol recovery. This is a level of care between outpatient and inpatient, usually consisting of multiple sessions (group/individual) in a single week.

Inpatient/hospitalization: While one of the more stigmatized levels of care, inpatient services are needed for a wide variety of services. Hospitalization is vital for some people to be able to safely reduce their dependence on substances. Hospitalization, in more rare cases, can be the best option for those struggling with suicidality and other severe mental health concerns.

With mental health services overlapping the education, judicial, medical, and ancillary services fields, keeping up with the different terms can become a real task. At the root of all of these terms, the goal is to educate, help and serve.

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