More Than Just Mental Health: What Is Behavioral Health?

Did you know that one in five adults in the US is living with mental illness? In the midst of the pandemic, depression, anxiety, and more are at an all-time high.

Almost everyone knows the term “mental health.” However, almost no one is familiar with “behavioral health.” What is behavioral health?

Well, it’s an all-encompassing term for physical and mental wellbeing. Picking apart the differences and similarities between mental and behavioral health can be difficult. To learn more about behavioral health and how to take care of it, read on! 

What Is Behavioral Health? 

Behavioral health refers to your well-being, both mental and physical, and all the factors that impact you. Mental health is therefore only a piece of your behavioral health. The terms are often used interchangeably, and while this isn’t incorrect, it’s more correct to differentiate them a bit. 

Behavioral health includes mental health conditions, underlying causes, and resulting maladaptive behaviors. This makes it a more comprehensive term for your well-being.

For example, depression is a mental health (and therefore behavioral health) condition. However, your behavioral health will encompass both depression and its causes. 

For instance, depression can lead to substance disorders. In addition, substance use is a contributing factor to depression. Both are part of the behavioral health picture. 

In addition, eating disorders are a great example of the difference between mental health and behavioral health. There are mental health issues like body dysmorphia, depression, and negative thought patterns. However, there are also behavioral issues like restricted food intake, excessive exercise, and binging and purging behaviors.

Further examples of mental health disorders include:

  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

Further examples of behavioral health disorders include:

  • Behavioral addictions
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Gambling addictions

As you can see, mental health issues encompass a person’s state of mind. Behavioral health issues encompass the ways a person’s behavior affects their mental health and vice versa.

Resolving Behavioral Health Issues

Behavioral health issues deal with the interplay between behavior and wellbeing. This means that they are more likely to be able to be resolved with lifestyle changes than mental health issues.

On the other hand, mental health disorders often have genetic or neurological causes. This makes them more difficult to treat with lifestyle changes. 

However, changing behavior can significantly improve behavioral health conditions. Of course, some symptoms won’t change. Even if eating habits are restored and exercise patterns are normalized, depression and body dysmorphia will linger.

This is why a holistic picture of mental and behavioral health is important. Restoring wellbeing is a matter of addressing the complete picture of causes and symptoms. 

Mental health and behavioral health issues are very often comorbid. In fact, almost 40% of people with substance abuse issues also have mental health issues. In addition, underlying traumas can also lead to the maladaptive behaviors of substance abuse or an eating disorder. 

Treating one without the other usually results in a relapse. 

Treatment Options

It can be overwhelming to pick through all the treatment options for behavioral health disorders. A great place to start is with a virtual doctor appointment.

A doctor can assess your disorder and the best treatment plan. They will make sure it’s comprehensive, so it will resolve coping mechanisms, mental health conditions, and more. Your plan will include one (or more) of the following.

Inpatient treatment is an option for severe behavioral health issues. Inpatient treatment is in a residential setting, where care is provided around the clock. Treatment is generally between 30 to 90 days.

Inpatient treatment has the advantage of removing outside stressors. Without triggers like work, family, or school, you can focus on recovery. 

Outpatient treatment programs provide similar services to inpatient treatment facilities: behavioral health counseling, group therapy, medical support, and one-on-one treatment with a counselor. The added bonus is that you can stay at home, allowing you to continue to go to school, work, and stay with your family.

Group Therapy 

You don’t have to treat your behavioral health disorder alone, you can find help from people who have been there before, and are still there now! There are many peer support programs and 12-step programs. 

Substance addictions are the most common behavioral disorders in adults. 12-step programs are specifically designed to help with substance dependence. This allows you to relate to other people who have the same struggles. 

You can address behavioral addictions in a confidential and encouraging environment. No matter your addiction, there’s a program for it! Some example programs include spenders anonymous, overeaters anonymous, gamblers anonymous, sex addicts anonymous, gaming addicts anonymous, and more. 

Your peers can provide you encouragement, stability, and social connection. These are all valuable tools during recovery when the temptation to relapse can be strong. Group therapy is a great way to ride through your urges and work on building new patterns of behavior.

It’s recommended that you continue therapy, either one-on-one or in groups for at least a year after recovery. Relapse rates are high with behavioral health disorders because they quickly become a habit. You can slip into your old patterns of behavior before you know it.

Don’t Put Off Behavioral Health Treatment 

If you are suffering from a behavioral health issue, don’t delay your treatment. Behavioral issues can creep into your whole life, dominating your day-to-day living with maladaptive routines. Quick treatment is the key to a quick recovery, so seek help today!

Remember, a virtual doctor’s appointment is a great way to start when it comes to forming a treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle.

If you enjoyed learning what is behavioral health, you’ll love our other content! Check out our blog for more!  

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