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Mental Health Glossary

You may have come across some terms before that seem simple, but aren't sure what they are. We've compiled a list of common words or phrases you can learn here.

Coping skill

Strategy to help you deal with difficult situations and lessen unpleasant emotions, thoughts, or behaviors


Health insurance

Signed contract with a health insurance company that requires the company to pay for some of your health care costs


Lived experience

First-hand, personal experience dealing with a mental health or substance use challenge


Mental health concern

Anything that causes a person to believe their mental health may be suffering; could be a symptom, a group of symptoms, or a diagnosable mental health condition


Mental health condition

A Set of related symptoms that the mental health community has recognized; includes conditions defined in the DSM-V, ICD-11, and by people with lived experience

Mental health professional

Licensed or certified mental health treatment provider

Mental health screen

Evaluation of your mental health and well-being through scientifically validated assessment tools


Chemicals that carry messages throughout your brain


Treatment that takes place in an office, hospital, or other clinical setting but does not involve overnight stays


Someone who shares the experience of living with a mental health condition and/or substance use disorder


Protective factor

Something that decreases the chances of developing a condition and/or balances out an existing risk factor


A licensed medical doctor who has completed additional psychiatric training; can diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe and manage medication, and provide therapy


Process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential

Risk factor

Something that increases the chances of developing a condition


Negative attitudes and shame regarding an individual’s own mental health, resulting from internalizing public stigma

Sliding scale payment

A payment model providers can use to make treatment financially accessible for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it due to income or lack of health insurance coverage

Social determinants of health

Conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play that impact their health and quality of life


Negative, judgmental, and/or discriminatory attitudes toward mental health challenges and those who live with them


A feeling of emotional or physical tension in response to being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental/emotional pressure


A physical or mental feature that indicates the potential existence of a concern, condition, or diagnosis


Mental health professional trained to help individuals understand and cope with their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; may assess and/or diagnose mental health conditions


Emotional response to a disturbing, scary, or shocking experience that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope

More Resources and Mental Health Glossaries:

Mental Health Glossary PDF

988 Suicide Prevention Glossary

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