SAMHSA Glossary

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42 C.F.R. Part 2 – Federal Regulations enacted by Congress in the 1970s to governing confidentiality of alcohol/drug treatment and prevention records. In recognition that due to stigma of addiction, heightened privacy protections to encourage people to get treatment were needed.



Accountable Care Organization – Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to their Medicare patients.  The goal of coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors.

ACO – See Accountable Care Organization



Behavioral health – A term used to refer to both mental health and substance use.

Behavioral health provider  – A mental health or substance abuse treatment provider such as a psychiatrist, social worker, psychologist, licensed chemical dependency counselor or psychiatric nurse.

Bi-directional Integration – addressing the need for primary care services in behavioral health settings as well as the need for behavioral health services in primary care settings.



Care management – A set of evidence-based integrated care practices in which patients are educated about their behavioral health problems and regularly monitored for their response and adherence to treatment.

Clinical barriers – Obstacles to integrating care that stem from how treatment traditionally is provided and how providers traditionally are trained in different fields.

Co-location – An integrated health care approach in which both physical and mental health providers are located in the same building or on the same premises to increase access to those services and to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health treatment. Also spelled collocation.

Comorbidity – The co-existence of two or more illnesses at the same time.

Coordinated Care – Integrating the efforts of medical, behavioral health and social service providers while addressing an individual’s health and wellness.





Embedded primary care – An integrated health care approach in which primary care providers and behavioral health providers are located in the same practice or clinic to improve clients’ physical health outcomes. Also called co-location.

Evidence-based – A treatment practice or approach that is backed by a strong body of research evidence.



Federally Qualified Health Center – Community-based organizations that provide comprehensive primary care and preventative care, including health, oral and mental health/substance abuse services to persons of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status.

FQHC – see Federally Qualified Health Center

Full Integration – Mental health and other health care professionals share the same sites, the same vision, and the same systems in a seamless web of biopsychosocial services. Both the providers and the patients have the same expectation of a team offering prevention and treatment. All professionals are committed to a biopsychosocial/systems paradigm and have developed an in-depth understanding of each other’s roles and cultures. Regular collaborative team meetings are held to discuss both patient issues and team collaboration issues. There are conscious efforts to balance power and influence among the professionals according to their roles and areas of expertise.





Health Home – A provider or a team of health care professionals that provide integrated health care.

Health Information Exchange – the mobilization of healthcare information electronically across organizations within a region, community or hospital system.

Health Information Technology –  The umbrella framework to describe the comprehensive management of health information across computerized systems and its secure exchange between consumers, providers, government and quality entities, and insurers.

Health IT – see Health Information Technology

Health promotion – The provision of information and education to empower people to increase control over and improve their health.

HIE – see Health Information Exchange

HIT – see Health Information Technology



Integrated healthcare – The coordination of physical and behavioral health care.

Integration (link to What is Integration? page)









Managed care – An approach to paying for health care in which a payer controls the costs and quality of services through a variety of techniques.

MAT – See Medication Assisted Treatment

Meaningful Use – The measureable benchmarks providers must meet to qualify for incentive payments under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

Medical model – An approach to treatment in which recovery from a mental illness is defined as the reduction of symptoms and a reduced need for treatment, as contrasted with the recovery model.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) – Treatment for addiction that includes the use of medication along with counseling and other support.





Organizational barriers – Obstacles to integrating care that stem from how physical and behavioral health care organizations traditionally are structured.



Parity – The recognition of mental health conditions as equivalents to physical illnesses.

Patient registry – A log or database of all patients in a clinic or practice who have a particular illness or condition.

Patient-Centered Medical Home -An approach to providing comprehensive primary care for children, youth, and adults that facilitates partnerships between different healthcare professionals, including primary care providers, individual patients and, when appropriate, the patient’s family. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “A patient centered medical home integrates patients as active participants in their own health and well-being. Patients are cared for by a physician who leads the medical team that coordinates all aspects of preventive, acute and chronic needs of patients using the best available evidence and appropriate technology. These relationships offer patients comfort, convenience, and optimal health throughout their lifetimes.”

Peer – In the context of peer support, a peer is a person who has lived experience with a psychiatric, traumatic and/or addiction challenge, and may benefit from peer support.

Peer Support – The process of giving and receiving non-clinical assistance to achieve long-term recovery from severe psychiatric, traumatic or addiction challenges. This support is provided by peer supporters – people who have “lived experience” and have been trained to assist others in initiating and maintaining long-term recovery and enhancing the quality of life for individuals and their families. Peer support services are inherently designed, developed, delivered, evaluated and supervised by peers in long-term recovery.
(Definition adapted from White, W. (2009). Peer-Based Addiction Recovery Support: History, Theory, Practice and Scientific Evaluation.)

Peer Supporter – A peer supporter is someone who has experienced the healing process of recovery from psychiatric, traumatic and/or substance use challenges and, as a result, can offer assistance and support to promote another peer’s own personal recovery journey. The peer support volunteers to share portions of his or her recovery experience in an appropriate and effective manner.

Peer Support Relationship – The qualities that make an effective peer supporter are best defined by the individual receiving support,rather than by an organization or provider of care. Matching peer supporters with peers often encompasses shared cultural characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation,co-occurring challenges, and experience in the military or with the criminal justice system or any other identity-shaping life experience that increases common language, mutual understanding, trust,confidence and safety.

Person-Centered Health Home – A healthcare provider that is equipped to care for the whole patient and manage multiple, interrelated and chronic health problems. The healthcare home offers preventive screening and health services, acute primary care, behavioral health, management of chronic health conditions, and end of life care. These services are supported by access to lab and x-ray facilities, medical/surgical specialties and hospital care. A team of primary and behavioral health specialists coordinates care management to reduce fragmentation, prevent avoidable conditions, and promote patient independence and self-care.

People First Language emphasizes that people should not be defined by their challenges and diagnoses. For more information about and examples of people first language, please visit Guidance on Transformative Language from the SAMHSA Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health.

Primary Care – The care provided by physicians specifically trained for and skilled in comprehensive first contact and continuing care for persons with any undiagnosed sign, symptom, or health concern (the “undifferentiated” patient) not limited by problem origin (biological, behavioral, or social), organ system, or diagnosis.

Practice Standards – Practice standards are rules or guidelines used as the basis for informed decision-making about acceptable work performance and practices. They are established by an authoritative entity through a collaborative process with input from a wide range of people who perform the work. Standards are based on values, ethics, principles and competencies.Having a core set of standards is one important way to legitimize a field of practice.Practice standards generally have three basic components: 1) practice guidelines, 2) identification and description of core competencies and 3) ethical guidelines or code of ethics.





Recovery model – An approach to treatment in which recovery from a mental illness is defined as the improvement of a person’s quality of life and level of functioning despite the illness, as contrasted with the medical model.



SBIRT – See Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) – a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. Primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur.

Serious emotional disturbance – Mental health problems that severely limit children’s ability to function at school, at home, and in the family.

Severe mental illness – Term used to refer to psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that are associated with greater disruptions in people’s ability to function.



Treatment guidelines – Descriptions of best practices for assessment or management of a health condition.







Warm hand-off – An approach in which the primary care provider does a face-to-face introduction of a patient to the behavioral health specialist to which he or she is being referred.

Wellness – A state of physical and mental well-being.


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