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  • Writer's pictureKevin Kenealy

Mental Health Terms Everyone Should Know

If you're thinking about addressing your mental health for the first time, you may come across simple words, but you aren't exactly sure what they mean. Here is a list of mental health terms that will help!

Coping skill: a way to deal with challenging situations and lessen negative feelings, thoughts, or actions.

Health care coverage: A signed agreement with a health insurance company says the company will pay for some of your health care costs.

Been there, done that: personal, first-hand experience with a mental health or drug use challenge

Concern about mental health: Anything that makes a person worry about their mental health. This could be a symptom, a group of symptoms, or a mental health condition that can be diagnosed.

Condition of the mind: A group of related symptoms that the mental health community has recognized. These symptoms include conditions defined in the DSM-V, ICD-11, and by people with lived experience.

Mental health professional: A mental health professional is licensed or certified to help people with mental health problems. For a complete list, visit

Screen for mental health: an evaluation of your mental health and well-being using tools that have been scientifically proven to be accurate.

Neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that send and receive messages.

Outpatient: Outpatient care is medical care in a doctor's office, hospital, or other clinical setting but doesn't require a patient to stay overnight.

Peer: Someone who understands what it's like to live with a mental health condition and addiction.

Protective factor: Something that lowers the risk of getting a disease and makes up for an existing risk factor

Psychiatrist: a licensed medical doctor who has also taken extra training in psychiatry. They can diagnose mental health problems, prescribe, and manage medication, and provide therapy.


Recovery is a process of change in which people try to improve their health and well-being, live their own lives, and reach their full potential.

Risk factor:

A risk factor makes it more likely that a condition will happen.

Self-stigma: Self-stigma is when people feel bad about themselves and ashamed about their mental health because they have internalized public stigma.

Sliding scale payment: Sliding scale payment is a way for providers to get paid, making treatment affordable for people who wouldn't be able to get it otherwise because of their income or lack of health insurance. Social determinants of health are the ways people live, learn, work, and play that affect their health and quality of life.

Stigma: Stigma is having negative, judgmental, or unfair thoughts about mental health problems and their people.


Stress is a feeling of tension in the body or mind that comes from being overwhelmed or unable to handle mental or emotional pressure.


A symptom is a physical or mental sign that could point to a problem, condition, or diagnosis.


Therapists are trained mental health professionals who help people understand and deal with their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They may also evaluate and diagnose mental health conditions.


Trauma is an emotional reaction to a scary, upsetting, or shocking event that makes it hard for a person to cope.

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