What is the Difference Between Mental Health and Behavioral Health? Thumbnail

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health: Identifying Typical Conditions

Health is influenced by many factors, such as your diet, physical activity level, and sleeping habits. While we often focus on the health of our physical bodies, well-being also encompasses how we think, feel, and act. These factors pertain to your mental and behavioral health.

While mental and behavioral health may seem like two different disciplines, the two terms can be used interchangeably. A person’s behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are all part of a person's overall mental health. 

When struggling with difficult emotions or exhibiting harmful behavior, professional mental health services can help restore your well-being and assist you in regaining control of your life.

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

Behavioral health is sometimes perceived as only involving a person's behavior, whereas mental health is sometimes thought to only relate to a person's thoughts and feelings. However, these terms are interrelated, and most mental health conditions involve both emotions and behaviors.

For example, a person who engages in self harm very likely has an underlying emotional issue that influences their behavior. A person who is struggling with substance abuse may be acting out of overwhelming grief, anxiety, or a mood disorder.

Similarly, a person with depression may exhibit behaviors indicative of depression, such as isolation from friends and family or reduced engagement in previously enjoyed activites. Experiencing extreme anger as part of a larger illness could also lead to abusive behavior towards others.

Some mental illnesses have more easily recognized behaviors, while others may have more emotional components. To manage symptoms effectively, a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors must all be addressed.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by upsetting emotions or engaging in unhealthy behaviors, consulting with a mental health professional can help you determine the source of your problem and address the physical and emotional symptoms.

What is Mental Health?

A person's mental health includes their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It also affects our ability to cope with stress, interact with others, and make healthy decisions.

From childhood through adulthood, maintaining positive mental health is important at every stage of life. When our mental health is neglected, it can significantly impact several aspects of everyday life. Common mental health conditions include:

  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Behavioral addiction

What Are Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders?

Symptoms of mental illness can differ depending on the disorder, environment, and other individual factors. These symptoms can influence a person's feelings, the way they see themselves and the world, and their actions.

Common symptoms of mental health disorders include:

  • Prolonged sadness, anxiety, or anger
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Emotional highs and lows
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Excessive worries or fears
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and grooming
  • Confusion or disorganized thinking
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Decline in physical health
  • Thoughts that are out of sync with reality
  • Hearing or seeing things other people cannot
  • Suicidal thoughts or discussions

Feeling sad or having anxiety can be a normal part of life. However, symptoms that do not go away, significantly disrupt your life, or worsen over time may indicate an underlying mental health condition.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, working with a mental health professional can help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming others, please seek help immediately.

Why is Mental Health Important?

Our mental well-being impacts every aspect of our lives. To cultivate positive behavior, emotions, and thoughts, it’s important to maintain good mental health.

A good mental state can improve our productivity, boost our self-esteem, and build stronger relationships.

Mental health not only enhances our quality of life, but also reduces the risk of physical health problems associated with mental health disorders. For example, anxiety disorders can affect the digestive system. By managing anxiety, digestion problems may be reduced.

Good mental health can also provide the following benefits:

  • Better mood
  • Stress reduction
  • Fewer feelings of sadness and anxiety
  • Improved peace of mind
  • Clearer thinking
  • Strengthened relationships
  • Enhanced self-esteem

What is Mental Health Counseling?

Mental health counseling includes a variety of therapeutic techniques that help individuals identify and change destructive thoughts and behaviors. Treatment often focuses on addressing current problems and finding solutions to improve one's quality of life.

Counseling sessions are conducted by a licensed mental health professional. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed therapist, or social worker.

Mental health providers may provide counseling in a variety of formats. Common techniques used to address emotional and behavioral symptoms include:

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy. Instead of fighting or feeling guilty about thoughts and feelings, this form of therapy encourages people to embrace them. In addition, patients are taught strategies for changing their behavior. and commitment.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. This common form of talk therapy helps individuals identify negative thought patterns to understand difficult situations better and deal with them more effectively.
  • Cognitive behavioral play therapy. This form of treatment is typically used in treating children. A therapist can gain important insights into a child's feelings and thoughts by watching a child play. In addition, the therapist may instruct parents on how to improve their children's communication skills through play.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy. Initially developed to treat borderline personality disorder, this technique teaches patients how to cope with unhealthy behaviors and change them.
  • Systematic desensitization. Often used to treat phobias, this process reduces a person's sensitivity to specific triggers.
  • Aversion therapy. This treatment is often used to treat substance abuse disorders. The method works by teaching people to associate a harmful stimulus with an unpleasant response.

Whichever method is used, mental health counseling provides many benefits. The benefits of working with a mental health provider include better symptom management, improved quality of life, increased productivity, and enhanced coping abilities.

If you are suffering from symptoms of a mental health disorder, counseling is typically very effective and can help restore your health and well-being.

Getting the Right Diagnosis

If you're experiencing emotional or behavioral symptoms of a mental health condition, getting help is often critical to recovery. Left untreated, mental health conditions can negatively affect all areas of a person's life, including work, school, relationships, and a person's physical and psychological well-being.

Harmful behaviors are typically more obvious, while underlying emotional symptoms can sometimes be more difficult to identify. For this reason, it’s important to receive a proper diagnosis so both the emotional and behavioral components can be addressed.

The first step in receiving care is to speak with a mental health professional. There are many types of mental health professionals who specialize in treating various mental health illnesses.

These may include psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, or other related mental health providers.

Working with a trained mental health professional will ensure you get a proper diagnosis of your mental health condition. To determine which condition is causing your symptoms, a number of assessments may be performed.

These may include a mental health history, personal history, mental and cognitive evaluation, physical exams, and lab work. By getting an accurate diagnosis, the proper treatment can then be determined.

Mental and Behavioral Health Counseling at CHE

At CHE Behavioral Health Services, we provide effective care for a variety of health conditions. An experienced team of over 900 mental health professionals, our providers work with our patients to identify and address the underlying cause of emotional and behavioral symptoms.

With our comprehensive and effective treatment programs, individuals can better understand their condition and how they can play an active role in creating a happier and more fulfilling life.

To learn more about mental and behavioral health counseling offered at CHE Behavioral Health Services, please call 888-515-3834. We are ready to talk and ready to listen.