Expert answers from
Terms beginning with A and B
- Academic health science(s) centre (AHSC)
- Academic Health Science Network (AHSN)
- Adherence therapy
- Advance decision
- Allied health professional
- Approved Mental Health Professional
- Assertive outreach teams
- At risk mental state (ARMS)
- Atypical antipsychotic medication
- Biomedical research centre
Some NHS organisations and universities are working much more closely together as academic health science(s) centres. The aim is to make sure the results of research about medicine that is carried out within the university benefit patients – that new treatments proven to work in research studies, for example, are offered more quickly to people who
AHSNs are the government’s latest vehicle for promoting greater collaboration between health organisations and university-based researchers and teachers. The idea is that NHS organisations team up with nearby universities and invite other locally-based organisations concerned with health – in the public, private, voluntary or charitable sectors – to work with them, ‘drive best practice’ informed by the latest research and thus improve care and services for patients. The Department of Health wants every NHS organisation to be affiliated to an AHSN (each AHSN will cover an area with a population of between three and five million). The first AHSNs are due to launch early in 2013, with a second round becoming operational by the beginning of 2014. They will each be given a five-year licence by the NHS Commissioning Board, one of the new ‘top-tier’ organisations created by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 in the latest NHS reorganisation.
is used to emphasise how bad an illness is at a particular time. An ‘acute episode’ is when the symptoms of an illness have become severe. ‘Acute care’ is medical treatment offered when someone is very unwell.
This is a type of therapy that aims to encourage people to take their medication as prescribed. A mental health professional will involve an individual in decisions about their medication, explaining likely side effects and benefits.
An advance decision describes a document written in case someone becomes seriously unwell in the future. The document contains the wishes of the individual regarding treatment in a crisis – who should be contacted, who should be involved in decisions about care etc. An advance decision that is recognised by law (in England and Wales) can be made under the Mental Capacity Act: the Act cannot be used to give treatment if someone has made a valid advance decision refusing it. However, an advance decision made under the Mental Capacity Act can be over-ridden by the Mental Health Act. Other types of documents that help someone plan for the future but have no legal status are advance statements, advance directives (in the USA, advance directives have the backing of the law), joint crisis plans, advance agreements and crisis cards.
An advocate is an independent person who can support someone with a mental health problem and help make sure they get the care and treatment they need. An advocate may be able to accompany an individual who is unwell to meetings with health care professionals to make sure he or she understands what is being said and proposed, and to ensure his or her views are heard and taken into account. An advocate can be a friend or family member, or someone who is employed to speak on behalf of someone with a mental health problem. Some advocacy organisations have specific roles.
The Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) can offer advice and representation if someone wants to make a complaint about the NHS in England. You can find out where your local ICAS is based by searching on the internet.
Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs) help people detained under the Mental Health Act in England to understand their rights and proposed treatment. People who are subject to guardianship and who are on supervised community treatment are also entitled to have the support of an IMHA. From April 2013, local authorities will have a duty to provide this service (previously organised by primary care trusts, which are being abolished by the Health and Social Care Act 2012). Often local advocacy organisations are paid (by the local authority from April 2013) to provide an IMHA service.
An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) can be appointed to help a vulnerable person when decisions are being made about serious medical treatment and they 'lack capacity' to make a decision for themselves. Independent Mental Capacity Advocates are mostly employed by voluntary organisations commissioned by social services departments to provide this service.
This term describes most health professionals who are not doctors, nurses or dentists – occupational therapists and art therapists, for example.
An Approved Mental Health Professional is a social worker, mental health nurse, occupational therapist or psychologist who has received special training and is approved by a local authority social services department to carry out duties under the Mental Health Act. These duties involve assessing, in collaboration with other mental health professionals, whether someone should be compulsorily admitted to hospital under the Act. People are ‘approved’ for a period of five years. Most Approved Mental Health Professionals are social workers.
These are community-based teams made up of nurses, social workers and other mental health professionals. They work with people who have a history of serious mental health problems who find it difficult to keep in contact with NHS services, even though they may still need treatment.
When someone is unwell, mental health professionals meet with them to find out more about their symptoms so they can make a diagnosis and plan treatments. This is called an assessment. Family members should be involved in assessments, unless the person who is unwell says he or she does not want that.
Family members can also get an assessment of their own needs: everyone who looks after a relative or friend who cannot manage without their help is entitled to have their own 'carers assessment'. To arrange an assessment, contact your local council’s social services department. You can also ask your GP to contact social services for you.
Mental health professionals and researchers use the term 'at risk mental state' to describe people who are thought to be at risk of developing a first episode of psychosis within the next year.
There are two types of antipsychotic medication. The first type is called ‘standard’ or ‘typical’ antipsychotics. More recently developed, ‘second generation’ drugs are called ‘atypical’ antipsychotics. Both types of medication seem to be effective but can have different types of side effects.
A biomedical research centre (BRC) is a partnership between an NHS organisation and an academic organisation that focuses on 'translational research' – translating scientific discoveries into new treatments. BRCs were first set up in England in 2007 and are funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The BRC that is run by the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, in partnership with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, specialises in mental health research.