Glossary of Mental Health Terms ( P - T)

Mental Health Terms (A - E)
Mental Health Terms (F - J)
Mental Health Terms (K - O)
Mental Health Terms (U - X)

Patient Advice and Liaison Service
(PALS) All NHS trusts are required to have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service.The service offers patients information, advice, quick solution of problems or access to the complaints procedure.

Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT)
A team that visits hospitals to check on cleanliness.

Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s Disease is more common in older people. The disease affects the connections in the brain causing them to malfunction.This results in movement disorders such as tremor and stiffness.The disease progresses steadily over years eventually causing severe physical and mental disability. Symptoms can be treated with medication.

Patient Administration System (PAS)
A computer system used to record information about the care provided to service users.The data can only be accessed by authorised users. PAS will soon be replaced by a newer system.

(see Primary Care Trust)

Personality Disorders
It is common for someone with a personality disorder to be impulsive, have high levels of sensitivity, be aggressive, attention seeking and overly dependent on others. However there is a lot of debate about this disorder. The World Health Organisation defines them as “deeply ingrained and enduring behaviour patterns, manifesting themselves as inflexible responses to a broad range of personal and social situations.” (see also Borderline Personality Disorder).

A healthcare professional who ensures that medication that service users receives are safe, effective and appropriate.

The department that supplies medicines.

This is an extremely common problem in the general population. Phobias are irrational and uncontrollable fears of an object or situation that most people can face without anxiety.The object or situation will trigger feelings of intense panic and the sufferer will go to great lengths to avoid them. Common phobias are fear of flying, spiders and enclosed spaces.

(see Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit)

Policies are produced by organisations to clearly outline what staff must do, and not do, in certain situations. Positive symptoms Positive symptoms refer to psychotic symptoms such as false beliefs and hallucinations (see definition).

Postnatal depression
Postnatal depression can occur any time in the first year after having a baby and most commonly occurs within the first six months. Symptoms include feeling low and unhappy most of the time, acute anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, tiredness and a loss of enjoyment or desire to do anything.These can be made worse by feelings of guilt about not being able to cope or look after the baby. Not to be confused with baby blues (see definition).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops following an unusually threatening event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares and intense distress when exposed to an object or situation that is related to the traumatic event.

Power of attorney
(see Enduring Power of Attorney) Primary Care Primary care is the care that you will receive when you first come into contact with health services about a problem.These include family health services provided by GPs, dentists, pharmacists, opticians, and others such as community nurses, physiotherapists and some social workers

Primary care liaison team
A service working closely with GPs for clients who cannot be effectively managed in an ordinary primary care setting.The team takes a key role in the organisation and delivery of service working closely with statutory and non-statutory agencies and transferring patients between services as required.The team offers risk assessment of clients, advice and short to medium term psychological therapies.

Primary Care Trust (PCT)
This is the organisation that looks after primary care (see definition). PCTs are commissioners (see definition)

A procedure is a series of actions taken in a definite and established order.This can refer to a treatment plan or to general activities.

A local policy or strategy that defines appropriate action. (see Policy)

Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)
A Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is a locked ward in a hospital where some people detained under the Mental Health Act may stay. Patients are placed in PICU because they are assessed as being a risk to themselves or others on an open acute inpatient ward.

A doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of people who are mentally ill. Psychiatrists have undergone specialist training and may diagnose illness, prescribe medication and other forms of appropriate treatment.They also decide whether to admit people to and discharge from hospital.

This is a type of therapy that focuses on unconscious motives and conflicts.The use of dream recall and free associations can be used in psychoanalysis.

Psychodynamic therapy
This is a form of psychotherapy in which the patient talks and the therapist makes interpretations about the patient’s words and behaviour.

(see Drama Therapy)


Psychologists have skills in the assessment and treatment of mental illness and psychological problems. Unlike psychiatrists they are not medical doctors, their skills include assessing cognitive functions (for example, speech and thought) and providing talking interventions including psychotherapy and counselling.

The management of psychiatric illness using medication such as antidepressants or antipsychotics.

Psychosis, or psychotic disorders, involves distorted perceptions of reality and irrational behaviour, often accompanied by hallucinations and delusions.

Psychosomatic disorder
In some illnesses, psychological factors seem to play a particularly important part.They can influence not only the cause of the illness, but can also worsen the symptoms and affect the course of the disorder.These illnesses are termed psychosomatic disorders. Because psychological factors are important in every illness, there is lack of agreement as to what should be considered a psychosomatic disorder.

Psychotherapists help people to be in more control of their own lives by exploring emotional difficulties and helping them understand themselves and their relationships with others.They provide consultation and intervention on a one to one basis and in groups.

The treatment of mental health, emotional and personality problems through talking with a therapist. There are many different types of psychotherapy.

Quality improvement
This is a general term for various methods of improving the quality of services that are provided to service users.

Randomised controlled trial (RCT)
A type of research or experiment used to compare the effectiveness of different treatments. Patients are randomly assigned to groups.The groups either receive the treatment being assessed or are a control group. The control group receive dummy (placebo) medication. RCTs offer the most reliable form of evidence for effectiveness.

Rapid cycling
When a person with bipolar disorder experiences four or more mood episodes (mania, hypomania or depression) within a year.

This is a type of alternative or complementary therapy that uses pressure points on the feet to promote health and well-being.

Improving a person’s skills through treatment and/or training to enable them to live a more fulfilling life in the community.


The ability of a data gathering tool to obtain consistent results.

Responsible Medical Officer (RMO)
The consultant psychiatrist with medical responsibility for a service user.

Restriction order
Restriction orders can be added to some sections.The person must have been convicted of an offence for which imprisonment is a possible penalty.This order means that only the Home Secretary can allow discharge or time away from the hospital.

Risk assessment
Identifying aspects of a service which could lead to injury to a patient or staff member and/or to financial loss for an individual or Trust.

Risk management
Changing aspects of a service that could lead to injury to a patient or staff member and/or to financial loss for an individual or Trust.

Royal College of Nursing
This is a professional body that represents the interests of nurses, and provides support in professional matters. Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) This is the professional body for psychiatrists as well as the body that sets exams for those wishing to become psychiatrists.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society
The Society provides guidance for pharmacists (see definition) and pharmacy staff.