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MindEd Glossary

MindEd Glossary



Abuse is a violation of an individual's human and civil rights by another person or persons. It may consist of a single act or repeated acts, and may be physical, verbal or psychological. It may also be an act of neglect or an omission to act, or it may occur when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a financial or sexual transaction to which he or she has not consented, or cannot consent. Abuse can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

A disorder characterised by low levels of attention and concentration, high levels restlessness and over-activity and high levels of impulsiveness, that is acting without thinking things through.  In the disorder these difficulties are present from an early age, persist over the years and occur in a variety of situations, not just one situation.  The difficulties are not better explained by autism-autistic spectrum disorders or depression or anxiety.


In this context, an observed emotion.

Alarms Bells

The presence of a risk to development and wellbeing that needs attention, but not at the Red Flag level of urgency.


(also Anorexia Nervosa)
An eating disorder characterised by low body weight, body image distortion, and an intense fear of gaining weight.


Hostile to or disruptive of the established social order; marked by or engaging in behavior that violates accepted mores.

Antisocial Behaviour

Behaviour that violates the accepted mores of society. It often leaves its vitims feeling helpless with a seriously reduced quality of life.


An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

(also ASD)
A range of related developmental disorders known as autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) that begin in childhood and last through adulthood. ASDs can cause a wide range of symptoms, which are often grouped into three categories:

• Problems and difficulties with social interaction

• Impaired language and communication skills

• Unusual patterns of thought and physical behaviour



(also Bulimia Nervosa) 
An eating disorder characterised by a person trying to control their weight by severely restricting the amount of food they eat, then binge eating and purging the food from their body by making themselves sick or using laxatives.



Child and adolescent mental health services

These are services that offer help for children and young people with emotional, behavioural or other mental health difficulties.  

They range from Universal CAMHS which is the care that anybody provides to help with these issues through to Targeted (also known as tier 2 CAMHS) and Specialist CAMHS (also known as tier 3 and 4 CAMHS).  

Targeted services provide help for children and young people in early difficulty or with less severe presentations.  

Specialist CAMHS provides assessment and treatment for moderate and severe problems, up to and including in patient care (tier 4 CAMHS).


When someone is unable to make an informed decision, they are described as ‘lacking capacity’. The Mental Capacity Act gives a legal way of making decisions on behalf of someone else who lacks capacity at a particular time. It applies to people aged over 16 living in England and Wales.

Chronic Illness

Illness that is prolonged in duration, does not often resolve spontaneously, and is rarely cured completely.

Cognitive Development

The development of processes of knowing, including imagining, perceiving, reasoning, and problem solving.


In this context, coherence refers to delivery of coordinated packages of care across several agencies.


The principle that information shared will be not be disclosed to other individuals or organisations. There are usually rules which govern what information can be shared as part of treatment and what must be kept private and secure.


The principle that a person must give their permission before they receive any type of treatment. For consent to be valid, it must be voluntary and informed, and the person consenting must have the capacity to make the decision.


A type of talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment.


The ideas and customs of a particular group of people or society.



(also major depression/depressive disorder, unipolar depression, clinical depression).
A mood disorder characterised by the existence of one or more depressive episodes (in the absence of manic episodes), in which the person experiences low mood or loss of interest, accompanied by such symptoms as low energy, changes in appetite, poor concentration, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and suicidal ideation.

Disordered Language Development

Speech and language do not develop normally. The child may have some language skills, but lack others. Or, the way in which these skills develop will be different than usual.


Emotional Development

The ways in which the child develops, learns to recognise and control their feelings.


The ability to understand how another person may feel even in they are not displaying emotion and take into account the other person’s life experience and context.


Making somebody stronger and more confident in controlling their life and claiming their rights. In this context, it refers to the level of choice, influence and control that users have in their use of mental health services.


Actions an individual, family and service must take to obtain the greatest benefit from the services available.


Family Life Cycle

The developmental, emotional and intellectual stages a child and their family pass through from childhood to old age by being part of a family.



An ‘intervention’ describes any treatment or package of support that is given to someone who is unwell. An intervention could be a drug, a talking therapy, or an hour spent with a volunteer, for example. Sometimes, interventions are designed for health professionals: training to tackle stigma or help make services more recovery-orientated, for example, may be described as an ‘intervention’.


Learning disability

A disability that affects the way a person learns new things in any area of life, not just at school. It can affect the way a person understands information and how they communicate. This means they can have difficulty:

•understanding new or complex information

•learning new skills

•coping independently



Child maltreatment includes neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and fabricated or induced illness. This guidance uses the definitions of child maltreatment as set out in the document 'Working together to safeguard children'.


The ability to observe and think about one's own thinking and emotional processes.

Moral Development

The development of a system of beliefs and values that ensures that individuals will keep their obligations to others in society and will behave in ways that do not interfere with the rights and interests of others.



Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs resulting in serious impairment of health and/or development.



The history, behaviours, emotions and thinking that a child may show when they are seen.


Related to the scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes.


The field of psychology that specializes in mental testing.


Red Flags

Something in a particular case indicates an individual is:

1. a risk to themselves;

2. a risk to others; or

3. at risk from others (safeguarding).

The level or type of risk means that action should be taken as soon as possible and generally within 24 hours.



Encompasses protecting children from maltreatment, preventing impairment of children's health or development, and ensures children grow up in safe circumstances.

Sexualised Behaviour

Sexual behaviour shown that is inappropriate for age or stage of development. Usually it has been induced by direct or indirect exposure to sexual behaviour.



The act of singling someone out for cruel or unjust treatment.


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