In healthcare and wellness, it’s not unheard of for terminology to overlap, and sometimes, it’s confusing. One common question is behavioral mental health, and is behavioral health the same as mental health?
The answer to that question can be complex and quite confusing, but we’re going to try to break it down here.
What is Behavioral Mental Health
Behavioral health and mental health are terms and areas of healthcare that often overlap. Mental health is a broad term that covers conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Behavioral health is more closely related to our lifestyle choices and how they affect our bodies and health. So, for instance, someone with anxiety or depression might abuse substances to self-medicate, which is related to behavioral health. A mental health condition triggers the behavior, but it has physical effects.
What Is the Difference Between Behavioral Health and Mental Health?
It can be challenging to answer is there is a difference between behavioral health and mental health because they are so closely related. However, while behavioral and mental health issues often exist together, that is not always the case.
For instance, overeating or smoking might be behavioral health issues related to our behavior. However, overeating or smoking cigarettes are not mental health conditions, and many people do both of those things without having a mental health condition.
So, the answer to the question of the difference between mental and behavioral health is that more things can be considered behavioral health problems, and people are more likely to choose their behavioral health problems.
When you have a mental health condition, it usually is not as a result of a conscious choice or habit, but behavioral health often is. People who suffer from behavioral health conditions have more choice to start and continue their lifestyle choices – but that does not mean they’re always easy to treat.
How Are Behavioral Health Conditions Treated?
Now that we’ve defined the difference between behavioral health and mental health, the next big question is how can we help patients treat and overcome their behavioral health conditions?
Over time, poor behavioral health choices can significantly impact the overall health of any person, which is why we often need to take steps to address these problems.
However, behavioral health is often intertwined with mental health, socio-economic conditions, personal circumstances, etc. This means it’s usually more complex than simply not doing bad things for you.
Before you can treat the physical effects of the behavioral health problem, you usually need to address the root cause and triggers that have caused that condition to exist. It is why behavioral health is a different kind of healthcare that often combines the skills of mental health professionals, doctors, nurses, and social workers, who all work together to help patients.
Why It’s Important to Treat Behavioral Health
It’s not enough to understand “what is the difference between mental and behavioral health” because the effects of behavioral health can be severely detrimental to the physical health and wellbeing of a patient; it’s essential to work on changing their behavior and lifestyle choices.
If a patient is, for instance, overeating, over time, that will lead to obesity. Obesity, in turn, can lead to conditions like heart disease or fatty liver disease. Those can eventually limit mobility and the ability to engage in social activities, which can trigger mental health conditions like depression.
So, while we sometimes see behavioral health as a symptom of mental health, it can also trigger physical and psychological health conditions. We, therefore, cannot simply ignore behavioral health factors when we are working to give patients a good quality of life.
What Can Be Done?
Treating behavioral health is complex. First, you need to understand why the patient is engaging in the behavior and their motivation to continue. It would help if you also determined what might prompt them to want to change their behavior, and then you need to make sure that they don’t slide back into old habits.
In many ways, treating behavioral health conditions is more complex than treating purely physical or mental health problems because medication alone can’t solve the problem. In fact, in most cases, medication can only treat the results of the condition and not the root cause.
So if you’re dealing with a patient who has a behavioral health condition, you might need to connect with a professional specializing in this kind of health and wellness. It might not be easy, but the results will undoubtedly be worth the effort.
The TrueCare Behavioral Health platform offers a comprehensive, in-person, Medicare-accepted program—building an environment where residents can grow stronger emotionally and help build a healthier community.