Glossary of Terms

Many of these terms have slightly different interpretations around the world. For the sake of consistency, we have listed the definitions that are employed in this document. Many are supported by W.H.O. definitions as referenced by International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision 2019.

Absence:  We define absence as days absent from work. Absence can also be both positive and negative and due to several factors. In this report we use absence to mean ‘mental health related absence.’

Abuse (drug, alcohol, chemical, substance or psychoactive substance:  A persistent or sporadic excessive drug use inconsistent with or unrelated to acceptable medical practice.

Addiction: Repeated use of a psychoactive substances, to the extent that the addict is periodically or chronically intoxicated, shows a compulsion to take the preferred substance (or substances), has great difficulty in voluntarily ceasing or modifying substance use, and exhibits determination to obtain psychoactive substances by almost any means.

Anorexia nervosa: A disorder characterised by deliberate weight loss, induced and sustained by the patient. The symptoms include restricted dietary choice, excessive exercise, induced vomiting and purgation, and use of appetite suppressants and diuretics.

Antidepressants: A type of medicine used to treat depression. They’re sometimes prescribed for other health problems such as chronic pain, and for other mental health conditions such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Behavioural disorders :  An umbrella term that includes more specific disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other behavioural disorders. Only children and adolescents with a moderate to severe degree of psychological, social, educational, or occupational impairment in multiple settings should be diagnosed as having behavioural disorders.

Bipolar Disorder: Characterised by episodes in which the person’s mood and activity levels are significantly disturbed. These severe mood swings, consists of an elevation of mood and increased energy and activity (mania), and on others of a lowering of mood and decreased energy and activity (depression).

Bulimia nervosa: A syndrome characterised by repeated bouts of overeating and an excessive preoccupation with the control of body weight, leading to a pattern of overeating followed by vomiting or use of purgatives. An over concern with body shape and weight. Repeated vomiting is likely to give rise to physical complications.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:  A form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness.

Corporate social responsibility: “A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interactions with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.” (Commission of the European Communities (2001): Green Paper on Promoting a European.

Company policy (and procedures): A company policy is a set of guidelines for employers and employees to follow the defined procedures. It is a set of rules established for the business interest of the employer and right of employees. A Company Policy is constructed based on the structure of the business.

Corporate or company culture: Is how you do what you do in the workplace? It’s the sum of your formal and informal systems and behaviours and values, all of which create an experience for your employees and customers. At its core, company culture is how things get done around the workplace.

Counselling:  A type of talking therapy where a counsellor listens to what you have to say and then helps you to try and see your feelings and problems in a different way so you can arrive at answers yourself.

Depression: Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration. It can be long lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing a person’s ability to function at work or school, or cope with daily life.  Depression often starts at a young age.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT):  A treatment for severe depression. It involves having an electrical current passed through your brain to trigger a fit.

Generalised Anxiety disorder: Anxiety that is generalised and persistent. A feeling of dread. The dominant symptoms are variable but include complaints of persistent nervousness, trembling, muscular tensions, sweating, light-headedness, palpitations, dizziness, and chest pains.

Leaveism:  Leaveism is a term that describes the growing tendency of individuals to be unable to ‘switch off’ from work. It is becoming increasingly common as working remotely and flexible working have become easier thanks to technology, and can lead to overworking, a reduction in workforce morale, and burnout.

Mania: An energetic mood of excitement and elation. It is a symptom of bipolar disorder.

Mental Disorders: Mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems, with different symptoms. They are generally characterised, however, by some combination of disturbed thoughts, emotions, behaviour, and relationships with others. Examples are depression, anxiety, and conduct disorders in children, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia.

Mental Health: Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual can realise his or her own potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and contribute to the community. Mental health is determined by a range of socioeconomic, biological, and environmental factors.

Mental health & wellbeing strategy: A framework for delivery of mental health activities for identified target groups (e.g. company employees) that brings together promotion, prevention, care & treatment and support for recovery.

Mental wellbeing:  Mental wellbeing describes a dynamic mental state. An individual with good mental wellbeing can feel relatively confident in themselves and have positive self-esteem, feel and express a range of emotions, build, and maintain good relationships with others, feel engaged with the world in general, live and work productively, cope with the stresses of daily life, including work-related stress, and adapt and manage in times of change and uncertainty.

Mindfulness:  A ‘mind-body’ practice that helps people manage their thoughts and feelings. It focuses on paying attention to the present moment. Mindfulness forms the basis of some mental health treatments.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder:  The essential feature is recurrent obsessional thoughts or compulsive acts to prevent some objectively unlikely event, often involving harm to or caused by the patient, which he or she fears might otherwise occur. Compulsive acts or rituals are stereotyped behaviours that are repeated again and again.

Panic attack: A period of severe fear and overwhelming physical feelings.

Post-traumatic stress disorder:  Arises as a delayed or protracted response to a stressful event or situation of an exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature. Typical features include episodes of repeated reliving of the trauma in intrusive memories (“flashbacks”), dreams or nightmares, causing insomnia. The trauma is usually so extreme that it can overwhelm their coping mechanisms and create intense feelings of fear and helplessness.

Presenteeism: Presenteeism is defined as attending work whilst ill and therefore not performing at full ability. Presenteeism can be both positive and negative and be due to a variety of factors. In this report we will use presenteeism to mean ‘mental health related presenteeism’.

Psychiatrist:  A medical doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions.

Psychological therapist: A practitioner of psychological therapy. They deliver interventions to help people understand and make changes to their thinking, behaviour and relationships, to improve mental wellbeing.

Psychotherapy: A form of psychiatric treatment that involves therapeutic conversations and interactions between a therapist and a child or family.

Psychosis: Characterised by distortions of thinking and perception, as well as inappropriate or narrowed range of emotions. Incoherent or irrelevant speech may be present. Hallucinations, delusions, or excessive and unwarranted suspicions may also occur. Severe abnormalities of behaviour, such as disorganised behaviour, agitation, excitement and inactivity or over activity, may be seen. Disturbance of emotions and vulnerabilities may also be apparent.

Schizophrenia: A severe mental disorder, characterised by profound disruptions in thinking, affecting language, perception, and the sense of self. It often includes psychotic experiences, such as hearing voices or delusions. Schizophrenia typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood.

Self-harm: A broader term referring to intentional self-inflicted poisoning or injury, which may or may not have a fatal intent or outcome.

Stigma: The stigma attached to mental illness often leads to social exclusion and discrimination and creates an additional burden for the affected individual. Mental health stigma refers to societal disapproval, or when society places shame on people who live with a mental illness or seek help for emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD.

Self-Stigma:  This is where people with mental health problems believe what is being said about their condition and agree with their viewpoints.

Suicide: The act of deliberately killing oneself.

Suicidal behaviour: A range of behaviours that include thinking about suicide (or ideation), planning for suicide, attempting suicide and suicide itself.

Symptoms: Evidence or a sign of a health condition that the person with the condition notices themselves. An example for mental health might be low mood.

Wellbeing: Wellbeing is defined as feeling good and functioning well and comprises each individual’s experience of their life and a comparison of life circumstances with social norms and values. Wellbeing can be both subjective and objective.

Workrelated stress: Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope. However, when that pressure becomes excessive or otherwise unmanageable it leads to stress.

Workplace mental health policy: Official statement by an organisation that provides the overall direction for mental health by defining a vision, values, principles and objectives, and by establishing a broad model for action to achieve that vision.

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