mental health


A pattern of thoughts, feelings or behaviour that is deviant, distressing and dysfunctional


A pattern of thoughts, feelings or behaviour that conforms to a usual, typical or expected standard

Mental Health

The capacity of an individual to interact with others and the environment in ways that promote wellbeing, optimal development throughout the lifespan and effective use of their cognitive, emotional and social abilities

Mental Illness

A psychological dysfunction that usually involves impairment in the ability to cope with everyday life and distress. Thoughts feelings and behaviours that are atypical of the person within a culture may also be inappropriate

Categorical approach

An approach to classifying mental disorders involving assessment of whether an individual has a disorder on the basis of symptoms and characteristics that are described as typical of the disorder

Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

A categorical system for diagnosing and classifying mental disorders based on recognisable symptoms that are precisely described for each disorder. There are 365 mental disorders which are grouped into 16 major categories. Diagnosis involves identifying t

International Classification of Diseases & Related Health problems (ICD)

A categorical system for diagnosing and classifying mental disorders based on recognisable symptoms described for each disease and disorder. 21 Chapters cover all physical and mental conditions and disorders. Chapter V (5) covers mental and behavioural di

Dimensional approaches

An approach to classifying mental disorders that quantifies a person's symptoms or other characteristics of interest and represents them with numerical values on one or more scales or continuums, rather than assigning them to a mental disorder category

Graded dimensional approach

Where individuals are assigned a score on a scale of overall impact on functioning or level or impairment for particular dimensions

Transitional dimensional approach

Monitoring and measuring the changes over time of an individuals symptoms or mental condition


A state of physiological and psychological arousal produced by stressors (internal or external) that are perceived by the individual as challenging or exceeding their ability to cope


Any person, situation, or event that produces stress

Stress reactions

The physiological, psychological and behavioural responses that people can experience when confronted by a stressor

Fight-Flight Response

An involuntary reaction of the sympathetic nervous system that results in a state of physiological readiness to deal with a sudden/immediate threat by either confronting it or running away to safety

HPA Axis

A chain of reactions in the physiological response to stress involving the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and the adrenal glands

General Adaptation Syndrome

The total mobilisation of an organism's resources and defense systems in response to stress

Alarm reaction

The first stage of GAS in which the body goes into a temporary state of shock then rebounds (countershock) following the initial exposure to the stressor


Where the ability to deal with the stressor is reduced below normal


Where the bodily resources are able to cope with the stressor again


The second stage of GAS when the body's ability to deal with a stressor develops and rises above normal


The third stage of GAS when the effects of a stressor can no longer be dealt with and the organism becomes weak and vulnerable to physical and psychological illnesses


A positive psychological response to a stressor, as indicated by the presence of positive states such as feeling enthusiastic, excited, active and alert


A negative psychological response to a stressor, as indicated by the presence of negative states such as feeling angry, anxious, nervous, irritable or tense

Transactional model of stress and coping

A model which proposes that stress involves an encounter between an individual and their environment, and that a stress response depends upon the appraisal of the stressor and ability to cope with it

Primary appraisal

We evaluate the significance of the situation

Secondary appraisal

We evaluate our coping options for dealing with the stressful situation


We determine the extent to which additional resources are needed to cope with the situation


The process of attempting to manage the demands of a stressor in some effective way

Problem-focused coping

Involves efforts to manage the cause of the stressor

Emotion-focused coping

Involves strategies to attend to our emotional responses to a stressor

Social Readjustment

The amount of change in lifestyle a person is forced to make following a specific event in their lives

Acculturative stress

Stress people experience in trying to adapt to a new culture


A subjective experience where one has the feeling of having less space than preferred


The body's ability to maintain a stable physiological environment by adjusting and changing to meet internal and external demands

Allostatic load

Wear and tear on the brain and body due to cumulative exposure to increased secretion and presence of stress hormones over a period of time


A technique that enables an individual to receive information about the state of a bodily process


An intentional attempt to bring about a deeply relaxed state in order to reduce one or more effects of stress-related symptoms


Any activity that brings about a state of reduced psychological and/or physiological tension

Physical Exercise

Physical activity that is usually planned and performed to improve or maintain one's physical condition

Social Support

Help or assistance from other people when needed


A state of physiological arousal associated with feelings of apprehension, worry or uneasiness that something is wrong or that something unpleasant is about to happen

Anxiety disorder

A mental disorder that is characterised by chronic feelings of anxiety, distress, nervousness and apprehension or fear about the future, with a negative effect


An anxiety disorder involving excessive or unreasonable fear of a particular object, situation or event that causes significant distress or interferes with everyday functioning

Specific phobia

An anxiety disorder characterised by significant anxiety produced by exposure to a specific feared object or situation, often leading to avoidance behaviour

Gamma-amnio butyric acid (GABA)

The primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the CNS that words throughout the brain to inhibit the activity of postsynaptic neurons


A group of drugs that have the effect of 'calming down' the body by reducing physiological arousal and promoting relaxation

Psychodynamic model

An approach to understanding and treating a mental disorder that emphasises the role of unresolved psychological conflicts occurring at an unconscious level

Behavioural model

An approach to understanding and treating a mental disorder that emphasises the role of learning and experience

Cognitive model

An approach to understanding and treating a phobia that emphasises how the individual processes information about a phobic stimulus and related events, particularly their 'distorted' ways of thinking

Cognitive bias

A tendency to think in a way that involves errors of judgment and faulty decision making

Specific environmental triggers

A certain object or situation in the environment that produces an extreme fear response

Parental modelling

Imitating the behaviour of either parent after observing them display a fearful behaviour towards a particular object or situation

Transmission of threat information

The delivery of information from family, peers, teachers, media and other secondary sources about the potential threat or actual danger of a particular object or situation

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

A combination of thought and action therapies to help people overcome mental health problems

Systematic Desensitisation

Kind of behaviour therapy that aims to replace an anxiety response with a relaxation response when confronted with a phobic stimulus


A type of exposure therapy that involves bringing an individual into direct contact with an anxiety or fear producing stimulus and keeping them in contact with it until the CR is extinguished