Words you need to know - Mental health

a woman sitting at a table talking to a young teenager

Getting help and support can be hard enough without having to know the definitions of all the new words you encounter. We've put together this list so that you can understand what things mean and be on your way to support faster and easier.


  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)/Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS – in QLD): Free specialist mental health service in both community based and inpatient settings.

  • Drop-in centre/service: A place where people who know all about things like employment, legal, health and general welfare can be visited without an appointment.

  • Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (CATT): Provides immediate help during a mental health crisis via phone or in person. To find details specific to your state click here.

  • GP Mental Health Treatment Plan: Provides Medicare benefits to patients for selected mental health services (GPs, psychiatrists, clinical and registered psychologists, eligible social workers, and occupational therapists) under a GP managed plan. Learn more about seeing a GP for mental health here.

  • Headspace: A national youth mental health service, providing support for 12 – 25 year olds online and in centres around the country including counselling, information and resources, and various programs. Learn more about accessing Headspace here.

  • Helpline: Phone services that provide counselling, information and referrals. Find a helpline that might be useful for you here.

  • Online forums: These are communities on the internet where members can chat to each other, usually anonymously. ReachOut Parents have a forum where you can connect with others here and there’s also a forum for your teenager here.

  • Support group: A group of people with common experiences or concerns who come together to support, comfort and encourage each other.

  • Youth health service: A specialist service providing multi-disciplinary health care for young people (up to 25).

  • Youth centre: A place that puts on activities and support for young people (usually up to 25).


  • Case manager/case worker: These people are often social workers or other trained professionals who help you set goals and access the right supports & services including advocacy, information, and referral.

  • Coach: A professional who helps plan and achieve your goals. ReachOut Parents have a free coaching program, learn more here.

  • Counsellor/School counsellor: A professional (usually with a social work or psychology degree) who uses talking and support to help you work through issues and problems.

  • Psychiatrist: A doctor trained in mental illness. They have a medical degree specialising in psychiatry and can prescribe medication.

  • Psychologist: A professional who studies and helps with behaviour and mental processes. These people have a degree in psychology, usually use talking therapies and can’t prescribe medication. Learn more about what it's like to get help from a psychologist here.

  • Social worker: A professional who provides support to improve your wellbeing, including addressing disadvantage. You’ll find social workers in a variety of roles like casework, counselling, and community work.

  • Student Support Officer: A school staff member who works in collaboration with community services to identify and intervene early with teenagers who have additional needs or are at risk of disengagement.

  • Welfare teacher: A regular teacher who is also responsible for the health and wellbeing of students, promoting personal and social development and fostering positive attitudes.

  • Youth Liaison Officer: Part of the police force, these officers are specially trained and coordinate youth crime reduction programs, coach other police to interact effectively with young people, and can help if a young person has an issue with police.

  • Youth worker: A professional who works with a young person to advocate and facilitate their independence and participation in society, and realise their rights.


  • CBT and DBT: These are approaches to talking therapies as part of mental health treatment. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a practical approach that focuses on creating change in a person’s thought patterns, feelings and behaviour. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a long-term approach that includes mindfulness (see definition below), acceptance of difficult emotions and learning new behaviours and skills

  • Medication: Psychiatric medications prescribed by a psychiatrist or GP which are aimed at helping a person deal with mental health difficulties.

  • Mindfulness: A practice where you look at or observe your thoughts rather than get caught up in them and focus on being grounded in the present rather than the past or the future.

  • Online forums: These are communities on the internet where members can chat to each other, usually anonymously. ReachOut Parents have a forum where you can connect with others here and there’s also a forum for your teenager here.

  • Resilience: The ability to ‘bounce back’ from a difficult situation. Learn more about teaching your teenager to be resilient here.

  • Self-care: An activity or activities that you do voluntarily to help you maintain your physical, mental or emotional health. Learn more about self care by watching this video.

  • Self-talk: This is your inner voice and can be positive or negative ie. “I look great today.” or “Nobody cares about me.”

  • Specific mental health difficulties: There are lots of diagnosable mental health difficulties other than depression and anxiety, including Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). If you think you or your teenager might have a mental health difficulty it’s a good idea to see a professional. Learn more about getting help here.