Glossary of Terms


State Government of Victoria, Australia, Department of Health: Victorian Mental Health ServicesĀ 

2015 factsheet: A Guide To Mental Health Terminology

A Guide To Mental Health Terminology

This guide aims to provide a quick reference for anybody seeking to understand terms commonly used by mental health services.

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A person who has a caring role with the client and whose life is affected by the client's welfare.

Case Management

Case management is a process which aims to ensure the client receives the best possible treatment and support through the identification of needs, planning individual goals and strategies and linking to appropriate services to meet these needs.
See individual service plan, case manager, continuity of care.

Case Manager

A mental health professional employed by a mental health service who has the primary responsibility for case management of a particular client. The client's case manager may be a social worker, psychiatric nurse, consultant psychiatrist, occupational therapist, medical officer or psychologist.

CAT Service

See crisis assessment and treatment (CAT) service.

Chief Psychiatrist

The Chief Psychiatrist is a psychiatrist appointed by the Secretary, Department of Health under the Mental Health Act 2014 to provide clinical leadership and expert clinical advice to mental health service providers. The Chief Psychiatrist is responsible for the improvement in the quality and safety of mental health services and to promote the rights of the person receiving those mental health services.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Specialist public mental health assessment end treatment services provided for children and adolescents up to 18 years of age. They are provided by community-based, multi-disciplinary services and psychiatric inpatient services.


A person who is currently using public mental health services.

Community Mental Health Centre (CMHC)

The first point of contact during business hours for access to area mental health services. Mental health professionals employed by the CMHC provide initial screening, and consultancy for people requesting public mental health services to guide the person to the appropriate service. They also provide assessment, treatment, continuing care and support for clients with severe mental illness. Community mental health centres employ a range of mental health professionals to provide clinical services, including social workers, psychiatric nurses, consultant psychiatrists, occupational therapists, medical officers and psychologists.

Comprehensive Mental Health Service

People with a severe mental illness often have complex medical, psychological and social needs. A comprehensive mental health service is one which provides a range of services that meets the client's treatment needs, including community based services and inpatient care.
See continuity of care, individual service plan.

Consultant Psychiatrist

A medical practitioner who has undertaken specialised training and registration that qualifies them to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Some have further specialist training in areas such as child and adolescent psychiatry, the psychiatry of old age or forensic psychiatry. Psychiatrists work in psychiatric inpatient services, community mental health services or in private practice.


A person who uses public mental health services.

Continuity of Care

Provision of mental health services to a client in a way that ensures care is continued when there is a change of service or case manager. An example is when a person leaves a psychiatric inpatient service and his/her care is transferred to the community mental health centre or where the client moves to a new area.


See psychiatric crisis. Crisis Assessment and Treatment Services (CATS)

Crisis Assessment and Treatment Services (CATS)

These services provide urgent assessment and short term intensive treatment throughout the community to people in crisis due to a mental illness. This includes assessing the most effective and least restrictive client service options and screening all inpatient bed admissions. CATS provide treatment and support for people whose acute mental illness can be managed in the community with intensive outreach support as as alternative to hospitalisation. They also respond to people presenting at immediate risk of suicide. CATS operate 24 hours, 7 days a week.

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