Mental Health Professionals and Services











The following is a glossary of mental health professionals and services. It will help you to differentiate among the various professionals who provide mental services:  what do they do that is different from each other and what is similar or even the same. It will also help you to identify the variety of services that are available. It will not help you to identify a particular agency (click here for a listing of Community Resources).
  • Consider the following:
  • When you contact a provider you should know what to expect from them:  what
    can they do and not do.
  • If you are not sure, always ask what someone can do and ask what specific services their agency provides. 
  • Ask them to be as specific as possible of mental health providers and services.

SERVICE PROFESSIONALS

CASE MANAGER
A individual who may or may not be a licensed social worker and who coordinates services for an individual client living in the community or about to return to the community from an inpatient facility These services are obtained from a variety of community agencies.  The case manager has the responsibility of developing a service plan designed to meet the unique needs of each client.

CERTIFIED ALCOHOL COUNSELOR (CAC)
A trained person who is certified by the state in which he/she practices and provides counseling services to people who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs i.e. cocaine, heroine, marijuana or even prescription drugs.

CERTIFIED NURSING AIDE (CNA)
A person who is trained and certified according to state eligibility standards to provide personal care in a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or hospital. In order to work in a private home, the CNA must have an extra 12 to 15 hours of professional training.

FRIENDLY VISITOR
A person who is a volunteer and who works under the auspices of a community agency. This person makes visits to homebound elderly persons and may do errands, light housekeeping or, if permitted by agency policy, may chauffeur a person to medical appointments or shopping trips.HOME HEALTH AIDE (HHA)
A trained person who provides personal care under the direction of a nurse to a home bound patient. A home health may also carry out meal preparation, do light house keeping and do laundry. A prospective home health aide must undergo 90 hours of training and 12 hours of in-service before he/she becomes qualified to work

HOMEMAKER
A person who engages in household management tasks. This person may also may do errands for the patient. A homemaker is required to undergo 60 hours or training and 12 hours of in-service before he/she is qualified to work.

LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE (LPN)
A person who is a graduate of an accredited school of License Practical Nursing and is licensed by the state to perform skilled nursing in a hospital, long term care facility or a community home care agency. This person may act as an adjunct to a registered nurse.

MED (Masters in Education) COUNSELOR
A licensed person who provides counseling to people with certain types of emotional problems.

NURSE PRACTITIONER
A registered nurse with a graduate degree in nursing and who is board certified to make independent and interdependent decisions in adult health care.

PERSONAL CARE ATTENDANT (PCA)
A person who is hired by a patient to provi
de personal care. This person can be a family member or someone outside the family. Training is at the discretion of the patient and attendant.

PERSONAL CARE HOMEMAKER (PCH)
A trained person who combines limited personal care with household management tasks. These tasks may include meal preparation, light house cleaning, shopping and other errands within reason. A personal care homemaker may also accompany patients on medical appointments. A personal care homemaker is required to undergo 75 hours of training and 12 hours of in-service before he/she becomes qualified to work

PHYSICIAN’S ASSISTANT
A trained person who may or may be not be an RN but who has a background in medical care and has been trained in different educational programs other than nursing. They may carry out the following procedures under the standing orders of the physician (usually a specialist) with whom they work: 1) routine physical examinations, 2) prescribe medications with the physician’s approval, 3) make referrals to rehabilitation or other medically related services, 4) order tests.

PRIVATE GERIATRIC CARE MANAGER(GCM)
An individual ,certified in geriatric care management, who has training in an area such as social work,nursing, rehabilitation, etc. A GCM assess, plans, and coordinates with elders and their families.

PSYCHIATRIC HOME HEALTH AIDE
A person who is trained as a home health aide to work specifically with mentally ill patients at home.

PSYCHIATRIC NURSE
A licensed registered nurse who is certified in psychiatry and is trained to monitor patients who are taking psychotropic medications and to provide on a limited basis counseling to home bound patients.

PSYCHIATRIST (MD)
A physician who provides psychiatric services and prescribes psychotropic medications.

PSYCHOLOGIST (PhD. Or PsyD)
A licensed person who has a doctorate degree in psychology and who provides psychiatric services and psychological testing but cannot prescribe psychotropic medications

CLINICAL OR MEDICAL SOCIAL WORKER (MSW, ACSW or LICSW)
A licensed person who has a masters degree in social work and who is licensed by the state in which he/she practices. A licensed masters degree social worker can provide counseling and psychiatric services.

SUPPORTIVE MENTAL HEALTH HOMEMAKER
A trained person supervised by an LICSW (licensed independent clinical) social worker and who is qualified to work with patients presenting with difficult emotional-based behavior.


SERVICES/PROGRAMS

ADULT DAY HEALTH PROGRAM
This is a daytime program which provides health care and supportive services for frail elderly people and and disabled adults in an organized and supervised environment run by trained staff. It encourages peer socialization and interaction through varied activities. Nursing care and monitoring are provided. A nutritious meal is served. Transportation is arranged from the participant’s home to the center and return, unless the family requests otherwise. An additional benefit is the respite time for the primary caretaker. A person receiving MassHealth (Medicaid) benefits is eligible to enroll without charge. All other persons must make their own fee payment arrangements. Some adult day health programs offer specialized programs for elderly or disabled who suffer age-related dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.

CORI
A procedure required by law whereby all people who apply for positions as hands-on providers in human services are screened for criminal backgrounds.

DETOX CENTER
An inpatient treatment center for people who are severely under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are incapable of taking steps toward sobriety without professional intervention.

INPATIENT TREATMENT
Requires treatment and care for 3 shifts (24 hours).

OUTPATIENT
Treatment is provided on a day basis and may vary from an organized program for about 6 hours to an individual one-on-one basis with a licensed and/or qualified professional person.

PSYCHIATRIC DAY CARE PROGRAM OR PARTIAL HOSPITALIZATION PROGRAM
This is a program for elderly people who are being treated for psychiatric illnesses but do not need inpatient hospitalization or have been recently discharged from a psychiatric facility. The programs are focused on efforts to help mentally ill people to adjust to the community in which they live and to rebuild relationships with family and friends. Individual counseling and group therapy are provided by trained mental health specialist. Fees may be paid for by the various health insurance plans including MassHealth.

PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
A hospital which specializes in providing inpatient and outpatient services for mentally ill people.

Locked unit –
Entrances to these units are closely monitored by the attending staff. Patients are not allowed to leave without permission of the staff and may also be accompanied by a qualified person.

Unlocked unit –
Entrances to these units not locked. Patients are free to leave after notifying staff.

RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY OR REST HOME
Places in Massachusetts which provide a room, board(three meals), laundry, and activities for its residents. Medical care is not provided.

SHELTER
A facility that provides a temporary bed and meals for people without their own lodging. There are a very few shelters or shelter beds which are dedicated for elders.
There are several types of shelters:

Wet shelter –
Admits homeless active alcoholics and drug abusers. These facilities usually collaborate with community agencies which provide professional services for those who request them.

Dry shelter –
Admits homeless people who are not addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Shelters for women and children(often for battered women).

SOCIAL DAY CARE PROGRAM
These programs are similar to adult day health program with the exception that there is no nurse on duty. Elder people are provided opportunities to socialize with their peers through organized activities supervised by trained staff. Hot meals and snacks are given to each participant. Transportation is available from the home to the center and return. Payment of fees can be arranged through Elder Services or paid privately.

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