Behavioral health is a field in healthcare that signifies the connection between behavior and the condition of the body and mind. As a discipline, behavioral health integrates services brought by social workers, faith-based groups, counselors, psychologists, physicians, and the like.
In treatment and therapy, behavioral health seeks to determine and help modify self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors. It functions on the belief that all behaviors are learned and that the toxic ones can be changed. The focus of the treatment is often on current issues and how to alleviate them.
The Difference between Behavioral Health and Mental Health
While behavioral health and mental health can be used interchangeably, they do have significant differences. Mental health is a broad term which encompasses behavior. It describes a person’s psychological state due to his habitual activities, genetics, and environment. It’s a term that falls under the concept of behavioral health.
Mental health is concerned solely on the person’s state of being. On the other hand, behavioral health refers to how various actions contribute to your entire well-being. Behavioral health incorporates both physical and mental struggles that affect your welfare.
It has been reported that 7 out of 10 patients seek care for a behavioral health related-problem in the doctor’s clinic. Hence, it’s essential to understand the difference between the two terms.
Behavioral Health and Primary Care Intervention
People living with mental disorders often turn to their primary care physician (PCP) as their first line of treatment and care. Although it’s estimated that 1 in every 4-5 adults experience a mental disorder, some studies claim that as few as 5% of those persons will reach out for help from behavioral health providers. The collaboration of behavioral health and primary care might be the solution towards influencing the most change in people who are experiencing mental health problems.
Integrating behavioral health into primary care areas permit professionals to address the whole person. As the medical and behavioral health workers work together on these cases, they may gather more insight into the individual’s concerns and the treatments applicable to them. Moreover, primary care settings tend to be more accessible and have a more varied population of people who seek care. This may eventually encourage others to avail services and recovery options.
The Basics of Behavioral Health Practices
Apart from mental health, the fundamental practices of behavioral health center on family and relationship counseling, chronic illness management, substance abuse intervention, and recovery support systems. Customary activities and intervention under each branch all boil down towards achieving good behavioral health.
Here’s what you need to know about behavioral health activities and practices:
- It stems from the integration of physical and mental wellness
Poor physical health may result in an increased risk for developing certain mental health conditions. Consequently, poor mental health can bring negative effects and may result in some detrimental physical conditions.
Below are some lifestyle factors which can potentially pose problems to both your physical and mental health.
- Eating Habits
Food affects how a person feels. It provides pleasure, nourishment, and comfort. When poor eating habits spiral out of control, it could potentially disrupt one’s health and quality of life. Overindulging in certain foods may also potentially do the same. Consequently, all of these can lead to negative feelings toward food.
Experts believe that a variety of factors can affect one’s eating habits and feelings about food. These may include but is not limited to cultural, social, economic status, personal preference, and so many others.
Many individuals use food as a coping strategy to manage feelings of stress, boredom, anxiety, and others. This may temporarily help; however, using food as an escape to problems may bring other issues. It may also produce negative emotions of guilt and regret after eating. Furthermore, this may influence body image when encountering weight gain and other undesirable health concerns like elevated cholesterol and blood sugar levels, obesity, and eating disorders.
If you suspect that you may have an eating disorder, your first question should be, “Should I seek counseling near me?” Counselors and therapists can offer cognitive behavioral treatment to help patients change their perception about food. This approach focuses on determining negative thinking patterns towards food and replacing them with positive coping strategies. This may help you manage your impulses and learn how to take control of your appetite.
The way people perceive food greatly affects underlying thoughts and feelings. When you seek behavioral therapy, you may be able to develop a healthy relationship with food and may improve their health. Moreover, you may be able to attain the following results:
- Improved body image
- Realistic perceived image of self
- Increased in energy level and sharpness
- Easier movement
Physical activity in any form is a good way to maintain behavioral health. People who exercise regularly have reported an improved sense of well-being. They feel more energetic, sleep better, have vivid memory recollection, and feel more positive about their lives. It’s also a potent aid for many of the typical mental health challenges.
Studies have shown that regular exercise has a significant impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It relieves stress and helps subside muscle tension. Jacob Meyer, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University reported that physical activity can help alleviate or enhance symptoms of depression. Regardless of one’s age and fitness level, exercise can be a practical tool to cope with mental health conditions, improve brain power, and an provide a better sense of self.
People’s sedentary lifestyles can exacerbate mental problems. Once mental health is thrown out the window, it may be difficult to find motivation to exercise. This is why it’s important to make time for movement. Exercise affects the production and uptake of endorphins, the hormones responsible for alleviating feelings of stress and pain. Even a quick 10-minute brisk walk can strengthen mental alertness and performance.
Exercise can definitely enhance the quality of one’s life. It’s an effective way to break the cycle of negative thought patterns. Since the body and mind are linked, when your body feels good, so does your mind. Here are other positive effects of exercise:
- Minimizes stress and improves ability to deal with stress
- Improves self-esteem
- Instills confidence and pride in physical achievements
- Improves body image
Inevitably, smoking brings negative effects on both mental and physical health. A lot of individuals suffering from mental health condition regard smoking as a way to ease their symptoms. However, this relief is only temporary.
Dopamine, another hormone that triggers positive feelings, tends to be abnormally low in people who have depression. Nicotine in cigarettes meddles with the chemicals in your brain. It temporarily boosts levels of dopamine; however, it also blocks off the brain’s natural way of producing this neurotransmitter. Over time, this can heighten the individual’s nicotine tolerance.
This may be why there are individuals who experience both substance use disorders and mood disorders. They may attempt to lean onto cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs to ease up their symptoms.
- It targets cohesion of relationships in family and marriages through counseling
The family dynamic is complex. A lot of customary patterns may become toxic over time. It may even be difficult to identify and break them. Due to this, certain counseling modalities is applied into practice to correct these issues.
Families can benefit from therapy when they encounter stressful events that may strain relationships. Common problems center on financial hardship, divorce, or the death of a loved one. Moreover, counseling can be helpful to families who are affected by a member’s mental health or behavioral issue. Some common examples are substance abuse, chronic illnesses, food issues, behavioral problems, and social ostracism in children and teenagers.
Notably, successful family therapy can make a huge impact to those who seek it. It can promote understanding and collaboration among family members in resolving conflicts and miscommunication. Likewise, it can provide tools and insights that aid members to speak and understand each other.
One of the benefits of seeking counseling is that families will be assisted by professionals who understand these patterns and difficulties. Providers can help members learn new and healthier mechanisms of interacting with each other.
- It provides recovery support systems to people experiencing substance abuse
Substance abuse refers to the harmful usage of psychoactive substances. This includes alcohol and illicit drugs. Regulations which interfere with substance harm and abuse can minimize public health concerns. Interventions such as seeking treatment and recovery support programs can work towards health restoration.
Addiction is a chronic disease. Hence, when recovering, patients need long-term or repeated care to completely stop usage and attain recovery. Oftentimes, treatment may be initially intensive. Patients transition to regular outpatient treatment after completion of series of intensive treatments. This is to aid in sustaining their progress.
However, there are times that relapse occurs. It’s understood that relapse is a part of the recovery process. It should be regarded as a hurdle; not the end of the journey. There are several ways to minimize the likelihood and severity of relapse. This is through establishing coping mechanisms through behavioral health treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Moreover, drug treatment programs may further include therapeutic methods and a strong support system. Such of which are:
- Residential treatment: This involves undergoing intensive treatment while living at a facility far from the environment that triggers the impulse to induce drugs.
- Sober living communities: Living in a safe, supportive, drug-free environment together with other individuals who are recovering from drug abuse.
- Day treatment or partial hospitalization: This requires ongoing medical monitoring but patient can live at home, granted that it’s a safe, stable environment.
- Outpatient treatment: These treatments can be scheduled around work or school. Its major focus is relapse intervention.
- It improves quality of life
People with chronic illness, depending on the illness, are often living with physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges. This includes, but is not limited to, fatigue, balance issues, muscle spasms, neurological sensations, tremors, or depressive episodes. Due to this, patients often must modify their work schedules or stop working altogether, sometimes causing financial burden at home. Unfortunately, all of these scenarios may potentially trigger them to develop mental health problems.
A key feature of behavioral health practices is to help people manage their life amidst a chronic illness. Behavioral health professionals help people with chronic illnesses feel less alone and give them hope that they can still improve the quality of their lives.
Particularly, social workers take on the role of promoting patient self-management. They also educate and guide patients in coping healthily despite their complications. This is crucial for patients in figuring out how to adjust and accommodate different responsibilities. This may further aid patients in raising children, running errands, maintaining social relationships, and working all the while attempting to feel comfortable with their bodies.
- It encourages people to seek treatment and end social stigma
Stigma occurs when a person negatively marks another individual’s trait or health issue as a disadvantage. Sadly, people with behavioral problems may experience obvious and direct discrimination from the public.
Behavioral health practices gravitate towards encouraging people to seek treatment. It focuses on helping people turn against the fear of admitting and reaching out for professional aid.
Treatment can provide relief by determining triggers and minimizing symptoms that intervene with work and your personal life. Seeking treatment and counseling allows people to educate themselves about their condition. This may also help them overcome and manage their symptoms. Furthermore, this allows people to regain self-confidence and courage to break against negative thought patterns and end social stigma.
Behavioral Health and Resilience
Resilience can help shield people from various mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. It may also minimize the risk of coping unhealthily due to previous trauma, history of bullying, and family problems.
Resilience may enable people to grow and adapt positively in the face of adversity. This is also important when it comes to approaching treatment. A resilient individual may be able to deal with the various stressors that may rise during therapy. Notably, resilience can either be a personality trait or an environmental outcome that can be strengthened throughout the years.
Summing It Up
Behavioral health is a discipline in healthcare that promotes aid and recovery to a diverse range of issues. With this, there is no general treatment that is applicable to each behavioral case. Although they’re different, behavioral health practices may also benefit from mental health services. Integration between the two may bring treatment discoveries that may alleviate more pressing health and relationship issues.