Behavioral Health and Mental Health: Are They Connected?

It’s common to see professionals use mental health and behavioral health interchangeably. However, both phrases don’t use the same treatment method or definition, and the differences between these styles are quite distinct.

Mental health refers to a patient’s psychological state, whereas behavioral health includes the person’s physical condition and state of mind.

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What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes a person’s psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It affects the way someone thinks, feels, and acts.

Our mental health helps us determine how we relate to others, handle stress, and make personal choices. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, such as life experiences, family history of mental issues, and biological factors.

What is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health is the connection between a person’s behavior and the well-being and health of the body, mind, and spirit.

There are a wide variety of healthcare services that cover behavioral health, including mental healthcare, marriage counseling, psychiatric care, substance abuse treatment, recovery and prevention, and the management of chronic diseases.

The Connection Between Mental Health and Behavioral Health

Mental health is only one component of behavioral health, but the connection between the two is pretty apparent.

Our behavior influences our thoughts, and at the same time, our thoughts influence our behaviors. Every action a person takes can increase their stress or calm their fears, improve or weaken their relationships, or even contribute to good or bad habits.

Good habits, like exercise, diet, and sleep, can contribute to a balanced lifestyle. However, bad habits will inevitably lead to poor physical and mental wellness.

That doesn’t imply that these bad habits are the fault of the person who got them, as there are many environmental factors that contribute to worsening habits. After all, no one wants to be unhealthy or unhappy.

Example: Social Media and the Mental Health and Behavioral Health Connection

Social media platforms have been in a lot of hot water because of the way they contribute to our mental health. There is a strong correlation between social media and depression, and it seems that the negatives of scrolling your feed outweigh the positives of connecting with friends.

The Internet gives you access to toxic comparisons, trolls, cyberbullying, sleep deprivation, less face-to-face interaction, and obsessing over likes.

Even knowing this, it’s often hard for people to stop or even acknowledge they have a problem because social media is so integral to our lives. However, if you feel insecure, FOMO, or tired all the time, you likely have an addiction.

A mental health professional will diagnose this example patient with depression, maybe anxiety, and possibly an eating disorder if they’re losing weight due to toxic comparisons.

A behavioral health professional would then suggest limiting their social media usage, curating their timelines better, and creating a schedule that inserts healthy eating and exercise.

At the same time, these professionals will help this individual with medication and other alternative medicines. Both will help their patients take the steps towards better health.

Behavioral Health Counseling Aids Mental Health Professionals

70% of patients have behavioral health-related issues that affect their mental health. Thus the connection between both professions is necessary for fostering long-term happiness. It’s so significant that behavior can exacerbate problems already caused by poor habits.

For example, someone with Type 2 diabetes may have gotten that condition because they became obese. That person who became obese could have experienced a death in the family that caused them to turn to food for solace, which also caused them to lose sleep and become depressed.

In the end, that person may spiral and become sicker without professional interference. Therapies that help reinforce positive behaviors and find healthy ways to overcome negative behaviors are integral to diagnosing and dealing with mental health problems.


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